The Rev. Walter Fauntroy (L) gestures as he speaks, while the Rev. Al Sharpton (R), listens during a news conference in front of the John A. Wilson Building on Aug. 27, 2010 in Washington, DC.
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty

Civil Rights Leader Walter Fauntroy missing, presumed out of country

Civil rights leader Walter E. Fauntroy, who served 20 years in Congress as Washington, D.C.’s non-voting delegate and chaired the Congressional Black Caucus, after helping Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. plan the March on Washington, is out of the country under mysterious circumstances, according to The Washington Post

The home shared by the 82-year-old and his wife of 57 years in Washington, D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood is in danger of foreclosure. The couple is buried in legal and financial problems that the Post says have spurred Fauntroy to travel overseas to appeal for financial help from friends.

The couple filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this month, according to the Post report, with Walter Fauntroy quoted in court documents as saying that he “is temporarily out of the country and suffered a medical emergency.” According to court records quoted in the Post, the couple at one point owed more than $146,000.

At a fundraiser earlier this month, friends of the couple raised enough money to buy a new washing machine for the home, pay for car repairs, and donate the an unknown remainder to go toward mortgage payments.

Fauntroy launched an unsuccessful bid for mayor of Washington, D.C. in 1990, and spent half a century as pastor of D.C.’s New Bethel Baptist Church. As a congressman, he traveled overseas on missions to end apartheid in Africa, and to offer humanitarian assistance in Sudan. In 2011, he traveled to Libya amid that country’s civil war, and was detained along with other Westerners.

Johnny Barnes, an attorney for the Fauntroys, told the Post that he is in contact with Walter and that the 82-year-old civil rights leader “is doing well.” 

Civil Rights and Civil Rights Movement

Civil Rights Leader Walter Fauntroy missing, presumed out of country