Arthur Meredith Walters was a 20-year Army veteran and a social services administrator; who is most recognized for his role as the Louisville Urban League’s (LUL) Executive Director from 1970-1987.  He joined the LUL, an affiliate of the National Urban League, in 1963 as their Director of Job Development and Employment; and from 1963 to 1987 he worked tirelessly in creating employment, housing, and educational opportunities previously denied minorities.

 

He wrote the nationally recognized on-the-job training program for the League to assist the under-skilled and under-privileged in finding employment.  This signature program helped to persuade Kentucky and area companies to hire, train, and recruit black workers.  It became a model training program that was used throughout the network of League affiliates.  He was a catalyst for change in desegregation, equal housing, job opportunities for minorities, innovations in program services, and a champion of race relations.

Read Colonel Walters' full bio HERE.

HISTORY

 

the legacy of arthur m. walters

an interactive timeline

In 1918, Arthur M. Walters was born in Magnolia, Kentucky to the union of Tom and Mabel Walters.

Growing up in Magnolia on a Tobacco Farm, and attending school in a one room schoolhouse would provide a foundation of resourcefulness, resilience, and a deep work ethic.  

In 1945, Walters married his college sweetheart, the former Nora Lee Bryant. Their marriage would be a backbone in Arthur's life. To this loving union,

three children would be born:

Reginald, Arthurine, and Michele.

 

In the same year, Walters would begin another long and fruitful relationship,; this one with the

US Army.

In 1963, Arthur Walters joined the Louisville Urban League as their Director of Job Development and Employment. Over his time in this position, he helped well over 1,000 people find jobs that netted them over $2 Million in combined wages. 

In 1970, Walters was appointed as the Louisville Urban League's Executive Director; a position he would hold until his retirement in 1987. Many viable citizens of Louisville have given Walters credit for having given them their first job; and others will attest to him encouraging them to become involved in their communities.  

Walters retired from the Louisville Urban League in 1987. His retirement was celebrated by the entire city of Louisville, and prompted the city's mayor to deem the day, "Art Walters Day", an honor Walters would receive 2 more times during his life.

 

Under Walter's leadership, The Louisville Urban League Guild, the agency’s official volunteer auxiliary, grew in numbers and effectiveness.

 

Upon retirement, Walters was recruited by then Mayor Jerry Abramson to head Destination Louisville, an ultimately successful initiative to relocate the U.S.A. Presbyterian headquarters to the city.   

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Between 1938 and 1940, 

Arthur graduated as valedictorian from Bond-Washington High School in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, and then began his college career at Kentucky State University.

 

During his time at KSU, Walters became a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, INC.

In 1962, Walters would retire from the

military after a nearly 20 year career

that yielded participation in both the 

Korean War and World War II; and numerous awards including Bronze Star of Heroism,

Medal of Merit, WWII Victory Medal,

and the Soldier’s Medal of Bravery.

 

In addition to these accomplishments, Colonel Walters was profiled in a Federal study which proved that White soldiers would follow the directions of a Black superior. With this single accomplishment, Walters paved the way for thousands of Black Servicemen who would follow him in leadership.  

In 1971, Walters was instrumental in the election of Thelma Clemmons as President of the Louisville Urban League’s Board of Directors; making Louisville the first affiliate of the National Urban League to select a female board chair.

In 1994, he was presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from

Bellarmine University; where there is a scholarship

named for him.

Some of Walters' other distinguished honors include Freedom Award, Bell Award, Ebony Magazine’s “1,000 Successful Blacks”, Civil Rights Leadership Award, UNCF Distinguished Service Award, National Council of Christian and Jews Brotherhood Award, and the Louisville Defender’s Community Service Award. 

In 1995, with their 3 children, and 5 grandchildren in toe, Arthur and NoraLee celebrated 50 years of marriage; with a ceremony held on the Louisville Urban League's campus, no less.

The Walters would spend nearly 56 years together, before NoraLee's passing in the summer of 2001.

In 2005, Walters was one of 54 pioneering Louisville leaders chosen to be highlighted in a commemorative book entitled, “Passing the Torch”; a historic collection of one-on-one conversations with Leadership Louisville alumni, “whose vision and actions shaped the course and destiny of modern-day Louisville”.

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Walters was among the inductees to the Kentucky Human Rights Commission's inaugural Hall of Fame class in 2000.

On October 16th, 2010, after a hard fought battle with dementia, Arthur M. Walters transitioned from this Earth, to live with his Heavenly Father at the age of 91.

His passing was recognized by many people across the country, from political figures to spiritual leaders, to community leaders and former colleagues. Even now, nearly 10 years after his passing, Walters has a deep impact that is still felt.

In February 2012, he was posthumously inducted as the 53rd honoree to the Gallery of Great Black Kentuckians; also sponsored by the Kentucky Human Rights Commission.

 

His children and family were present in Frankfort, KY to accept the award on his behalf.

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In 2014, his family launched The Arthur M. Walters Bridge Builders Project (AMWBBP), coordinating an annual Bridge Builders Benefit Concert that continues to honor his legacy. 

In 2017, AMWBBP became a Federally recognized 501(c)3 Non-Profit Organization. 

© 2020 Arthur M. Walters Bridge Builders Project · a 501(c)3 organization