KALAMAZOO—Dr. Lewis Walker, professor emeritus of sociology and namesake for Western Michigan University's famed Lewis Walker Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnic Relations, has won the 2012 Humanitarian Award from the Metropolitan Kalamazoo Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
The award, one of two humanitarian awards made by the NAACP this year, was presented at the organization's 32nd Annual Freedom Fund Banquet, held Saturday, Nov. 3, on the WMU campus. The second recipient was Bishop Tommie D. Lockett, founding pastor of Faith Temple Church of God of Kalamazoo.
Walker joined the sociology faculty at WMU in 1964, becoming the first black Ph.D. at the University. His life as a professor and his passion for justice, said the NAACP announcement of the award, made him the "go-to" leader for civil rights and activism in the Kalamazoo community.
An accomplished author of seven books and numerous scholarly papers and published articles, Walker taught more than 20,000 undergraduate and graduate students and chaired WMU's sociology department for more than 10 years before his retirement with emeritus status in 1999. His expertise in the area of social justice led city officials to utilize his extensive expertise to conduct the first police/community training for police, and he chaired the task force that ultimately led to the creation of the city's Citizens' Public Safety Review and Appeals Board.
Over the years, Walker served as a member of or consultant to numerous boards, including those for Douglass Community Association, Northside Development Association, Kalamazoo Community Relations Board, Kalamazoo County Crime Commission and Kalamazoo chapter of the NAACP. He also served on advisory boards for the Learning Village, Goodwill Industries and Healthy Futures.
Shortly after his retirement, the University named its Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnic Relations for him. Walker helped create that research center in 1990.