LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Rita Walters, the first Black woman ever elected to the Los Angeles City Council and a former member of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education, died Thursday. She was 89.
Walters, a former teacher, served on the LAUSD board for more than a decade before being elected to the city council — filling the 9th District seat left vacant by the 1990 death of Councilman Gilbert Lindsay. She held the seat until 2001.
In 2002, she was appointed to the city’s Library Commission where she served for 15 years, retiring in 2017 with a commendation from Mayor Eric Garcetti, who took to Twitter Thursday to pay his respects to a woman he called “a model public servant.”
Sad to hear of the passing of Rita Walters, a model public servant who served our city passionately on the City Council and the library commission. Her leadership planted the seeds that have enabled Downtown to blossom. My thoughts are with her loved ones during this time.
— Mayor Eric Garcetti (@MayorOfLA) February 21, 2020
County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who served with Walters on the City Council in the 1990s, also posted on Twitter saying, “She fought hard for justice and peace.”
Walters was a graduate of North Carolina’s Shaw University and received her master’s degree in business administration from UCLA.
She was also a longtime civil rights advocate and worked with groups including the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She taught adult education courses and English as a second language classes in Watts prior to her election to the LAUSD board in 1980.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)