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BRIEF HISTORY

Sisulu-Walker Charter School of Harlem (formerly Sisulu Children's Academy-Harlem Public Charter School) was founded by ten men and women with one mission: to create a truly outstanding public school for children living in Central Harlem, a neighborhood with historically low-performing schools and a dearth of quality public school options. At the time Sisulu-Walker was formed, the percentage of children in Central Harlem schools scoring at or above grade level in reading was an abysmal 26%, indicating broad academic distress. The founders of Sisulu-Walker and its management company, Victory Schools, resolved to exceed these results. 

When we opened our doors for the first day of class on September 1999, Sisulu-Walker became the very first public charter school in the State of New York. On that historic day and during our first year we hosted President George W. Bush (then Texas governor), Governor George Pataki, Secretary of State Randy Daniels and other national, state and local dignitaries who recognized the promise Sisulu-Walker held for a brighter future for its students and their families. 

Today, we are largely fulfilling that promise. Sisulu-Walker is, by many measures, one of the top performing public charter schools in all of Manhattan. Our students' success on 2004 state math, ELA (reading), social studies and science tests exceed the New York City average, and Sisulu-Walker has almost twice the percentage of students at or above the state standards in reading, math, social studies and science as compared to nearby traditional public schools in Central Harlem. 

As a result of the school's strong academic results, Sisulu-Walker's charter to operate was renewed by the New York State Education Department upon the school's fifth anniversary in 2004. In March 2005, the leaders of Sisulu-Walker announced that the school had unanimously voted to rename the school "The Sisulu-Walker Charter School of Harlem" in honor of civil rights and community leader, Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker, and his wife, Theresa Ann. 

Founders

FOUNDERS

  • Melba Butler
  • Christina Giamalva
  • Minnie A. Lee Goka
  • Charlie King
  • Steven B. Klinsky
  • Danielle Moss Lee
  • Marshall Mitchell
  • Bill Perkins
  • Judith Price
  • Howard G. Sloane
  • Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker
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SWCSH NAMESAKES

Mr. Walter Sisulu

Mr. Walter Sisulu

WALTER SISULU

South African freedom fighter who, together with Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo, was instrumental in the destruction of apartheid.

Walter Sisulu was responsible for recruiting Nelson Mandela into the African National Congress ("ANC") in the 1940s and together they transformed the ANC into the most important human and civil rights organization that fought for the liberation of black South Africans. Sisulu's leadership and service on behalf of his fellow countrymen put him at odds with the ruling South African government and endangered his life and the lives of his family. 

In 1964 Sisulu, Mandela and six others were taken from their homes, convicted of treason and sentenced to life in prison on Robben Island. During his 26 years in prison, Sisulu wrote and published a history of the ANC and mentored Mandela and other imprisoned freedom fighters. Upon his release from prison in 1991, Sisulu became Deputy President of the ANC. Later, Sisulu and Mandela campaigned in the first truly multi-racial elections in South Africa and saw their dream of black majority rule fulfilled with Mandela's installation as State President of South Africa in 1994. Sisulu remained active in the ANC following the end of his term as Deputy President. 

He passed away in May 2003, his wife and partner in the struggle Albertina Sisulu also passed in June 2011, and they are survived by their eight children.  

Dr. Wyatt Walker

Dr. Wyatt Walker

DR. WYATT TEE WALKER

Renowned pastor, national civil rights leader, theologian, and cultural historian known for his contributions to the Civil Rights and anti-apartheid movements. 

Rev. Dr. Wyatt T. Walker served as executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference under Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the critically important years of the American civil rights movement. 

Among his many accolades, Walker served as president of the Negro Heritage Library, a minister at the historic Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City, and Special Assistant on Urban Affairs to Governor Nelson Rockefeller. In 1967, Walker took the Chief Minister position at Harlem’s Canaan Baptist Church, a position he held for 37 years. He is a widely traveled lecturer and author of 27 books on topics including human rights, the ministry and African American musical traditions. 

In Walker’s later career, he turned his attention to Africa, working in the Anti-Apartheid Movement and helping to bring about free elections in South Africa. He is also one of the leading single developers of affordable housing in New York City and has been a key player in the physical-renaissance of Harlem.  

He worked closely with Victory Schools and the founding Board of Trustees to establish our school. Now retired, Dr. Walker lives with his wife of 54 years, Theresa Ann.

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