Conservative Black Leader and Free-Market Think Tank Join Forces

November 03, 2002
Jacksonville Advocate staff

CHICAGO: Lee H. Walker, a leading mainstream conservative black spokesperson, has joined forces with The Heartland Institute, a national free-market think tank based in Chicago, to launch The New Coalition at The Heartland Institute. The new combination is already generating new resources to support a 20-year-old effort by Walker to bring conservative and libertarian ideas to nonwhite audiences, and a multicultural perspective to the largely white conservative movement.

Walker is a member of the Illinois State Board of Higher Education, a commissioner with the Midwestern (10 states) Higher Education Commission, and the 2002 president of the National Guardsmen. He is a member of the Delta Alpha Boulé of the Sigma Pi Phi fraternity and is a past member of its National Social Action Committee. He writes a monthly column for Crain’s Chicago Business, and in 2001 received the Pioneer Award from the Republican National Committee. Prior to accepting early retirement in 1993, he held positions in senior management with Sears, Roebuck and Company for 23 years.

For the past 10 years, Walker was president of The New Coalition for Economic and Social Change, a nonprofit group begun at a 1980 conference in San Francisco convened by Dr. Henry Lucas and Thomas Sowell. This conference, known as The Fairmont Conference, attracted many of the nation’s leading intellectuals, policymakers, and community leaders, including Michael Boskin, Milton Friedman, Edwin Meese, Clarence Thomas, and Walter Williams.

The Heartland Institute is an 18-year-old nonprofit research organization devoted to turning ideas into social movements that empower people. Heartland publishes three national monthly newspapers--Environment & Climate News, Health Care News, and School Reform news--and a bimonthly magazine, Intellectual Ammunition. Heartland’s research and experts are cited regularly in media around the nation and the world, and its Web site at www.heartland.org was visited over a million times last year.

“For free-market ideas to become public policy, they must be embraced by larger numbers of black and other nonwhite voters and opinion leaders,” says Heartland President Joseph Bast. “Lee Walker is one of the country’s most creative and respected conservative black thinkers. He has a proven ability to reach audiences we have been unable to penetrate, and to bring a multicultural perspective that has been missing from our research.”

“Having access to the staff and resources of The Heartland Institute has allowed me to focus more on ideas and writing and launch programs that have sat on the drawing board,” says Walker. “Thanks to this partnership, more people of color are going to hear conservative and libertarian ideas expressed in ways they can relate to and understand. Millions of whites are also going to learn what blacks and other nonwhites think about their ideas.”

Immediate projects include launching a series of monthly seminars in Chicago, expanding media programs featuring Walker and other conservative and libertarian nonwhite spokespersons, and upgrading Walker’s quarterly outreach publication, New Coalition News and Views, and his Web site at http://www.newcoalition.org.