By Martha Robinson
Anne Walden has a strong memory of the day she met Martin Luther King, Jr. It was during the early 1960s. She was the dietitian for Slowe Hall at Howard University. The staff was invited to meet with him and to ask questions. “He was very gracious,” she said. “I also had the impression that he grew up ‘nonstop,’ saying what he thought. I loved it.” Dr. King’s visit was at a time when many young African Americans were championing the Black Power movement, sometimes on the violent side, as the path to achieving civil rights. Anne remembers two Black Power protesters pacing up and down the street during Dr. King’s campus visit opposing his nonviolent approach to change. So, during the meeting, she asked the question, “What is your stance on Black Power?” As Anne recalls, Dr. King responded: “I did not think I could come to Howard without facing this question. There is no power but God’s power.”
Over time, King was among the most renowned, distinguished, and inspiring speakers at the university’s Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel. In another meeting with staff during Anne’s tenure at Howard, King spoke of African Americans wanting “to share the power to bring about a community in which neither power nor dignity will be colored black or white. They seek a community of justice and security so that their children will be able to identify with the American dream as equals. . .”
Anne moved to Riderwood in 2004 from her Jefferson Street home in the District. She grew up in Fort Pierce, Florida, where her parents ran a busy grocery store, and she lived within walking distance of the Atlantic Ocean. She and her husband, who she met at Tuskegee University, raised their family in Washington, D.C. Two daughters live nearby. Martin Luther King Jr. is known as the most influential of African American civil rights leaders during the 1960s. Born January 15, 1929, he was instrumental in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. MLK Jr. was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1964. He was assassinated on April 4, 1968.