The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Mourns the Loss of Lynn Walker Huntley

Media 09.1,15

WASHINGTON – Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement after the passing of Lynn Walker Huntley, a longtime friend of The Leadership Conference and a lifelong activist for civil and human rights:

“Lynn Walker Huntley was a remarkable woman who spent her life working to protect the civil and human rights of the world’s most vulnerable people. Huntley was a dear friend of The Leadership Conference, and she will be deeply missed by the civil and human rights community. Her commitment to justice, tenacious and creative advocacy, and ebullient sense of humor made her a role model for all of us who wish to lead full and happy lives in pursuit of social change. 

Huntley attended Fisk University, Barnard College, and received her law degree from Columbia University, where she was the first African-American woman to serve as an editor of the Columbia Law Review. While directing the Ford Foundation’s Rights and Social Justice Program, Huntley provided The Leadership Conference Education Fund with its first grant. Her lifetime of social justice advocacy also included work at the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and a long and impactful tenure at the Southern Education Foundation (SEF).

One of her first initiatives at SEF was a groundbreaking comparative study of racism in Brazil, South Africa, and the United States. In talking about the initiative, Huntley said ‘we must continue to struggle against racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression, not only because it is the right thing to do, although it is.  We must continue to struggle because to give in and give up is to ensure that all is lost and to betray what we stand for.  We struggle ultimately in order to affirm our values and who we are.’  

She was also particularly proud of her work in support of the Eyes on the Prize mini-series and kept a photo on her wall of the marchers profiled in the documentary, which was signed by executive producer Henry Hampton. She also supported and encouraged the broad dissemination of the series so that the visual history of the civil rights struggle would continue to be seen by future generations.

The civil and human rights community will sorely miss this extraordinary woman. Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers are with her family and loved ones.”

Wade Henderson is the president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its 200-plus member organizations, visit