Concern is growing for the well-being of 82-year-old Walter Fauntroy -- a former D.C. congressman and longtime civil rights activist -- who has been traveling for an extended period of time, but has been unclear in explaining where he is or what he's doing.
A group of people worried about Fauntroy spoke at a meeting Wednesday, where they also announced the creation of the Walter E. Fauntroy Family Fund to raise money to help Fauntroy's family with money problems.
Fauntroy has been traveling extensively in Africa and Dubai for years, with little contact with friends and family, according to bankruptcy documents filed earlier this month by his lawyer, Johnny Barnes.
At Wednesday's meeting, Barnes said he believes his client is currently in Dubai. He said he'd last spoken with Fauntroy three day ago.
Arrington Dixon, a community leader in Ward 8, stressed the desire to get to the bottom of what's going on and to help his family.
"It's funny because Walter always had a plan," Dixon said. "I mean, he was always called the man with a plan. He'd have his notebook.... Walter was about a plan. So we have to have a plan to take care of his folks here, his family, but we've got to have a plan and some questions have got to be answered.... We've got to have a plan to find out how to get Walter back home and in our community...."
Fauntroy, a former right hand of Martin Luther King Jr., helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, founded the Free South Africa movement, and served 20 years as the District's first delegate to Congress. He was pastor of the New Bethel Baptist Church for 50 years before retiring in 2009.
"[...I]f we talk about civil rights, we can say that he was one of the leaders and the voice of the Civil Rights Movement," said Denise Rolark-Barnes, editor and Publisher of the Washington Informer, earlier this month.
Rolark-Barnes is among a group of associates hoping that Fauntroy is found safe.
"There is a concern," she said. "There's a concern about his physical well-being, and there's a concern about his mental well-being."
Earlier this month, Fauntroy's attorney filed bankruptcy papers for Fauntroy and his wife, Dorothy, to stave off foreclosure of their home in Northwest D.C.'s Crestwood neighborhood.
"So many of... the folks who have given their lives for the movement... some end up being destitute, their families are not taken care of, and we just wanted to make sure that didn't happen," said Rolark-Barnes.