The Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker served as chief of staff for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from 1960 to 1964 and spent nearly four decades as the pastor of Canaan Baptist Church of Christ, in Harlem. In this photo, from April 5, 1970, he is taking his message to the streets. Although it perfectly captures the urgency of his fight against drug dealers and addiction, our article the next day did not include a photo. We spoke to Dr. Walker, 86, about the unpublished image and the role of the faith community.
I was at the height of my prime, at 116th street in Harlem, and we had a big problem with drug trafficking and our kids. They’d be recruited for drugs, then come to the community centers under the auspices of the church.
That picture was taken when I was talking to the parents of the children.
It was an ongoing movement — some several months. I guess we had a couple hundred people that day. It was after the morning service at the church. I spoke for 30, 45 minutes, not too long because people wanted to get to dinner.
We worked with different faiths, different groups. It was mouth to mouth in the community. We wanted our children to have a choice that was better than drugs.
They were the people I recruited to fight the drug trafficking. It was so rampant.