Lawyer and political official John Walker, Sr. was born on June 3, 1937 in Hope, Arkansas. He attended Yerger High School in Hope, and graduated from Jack Yates High School in 1954 in Houston, Texas. Walker received his B.S. degree in sociology in 1958 from Arkansas A.M. & N. College (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff) and his M.S. degree in 1961 from New York University as well as his J.D. degree in 1964 from Yale Law School in New Haven, Connecticut.
In 1964, Walker was admitted to the Arkansas State Bar and went to work for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in New York City. By 1965, Walker opened up his own solo practice in Little Rock, Arkansas with a focus on civil rights. Many of Walker’s early cases involved cases of racial discrimination in Corporate America. In 1968, Walker opened one of the first three racially integrated law firms in the south. First known as Walker and Chachkin, with Norman Chachkin, Esquire, the firm was credited with championing the first lawsuit filed in the nation for the harmful effects of racially segregated schools in Arkansas, and for the damages suffered by Arkansas African American children by the loss of benefits from federally funded school programs.
Walker was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1999. He ran and lost the election for the Arkansas House of Representatives in 2002 and was awarded the designation as Southern Trial Lawyer of the Year with its War Horse award in 2004. He ran for the Arkansas House of Representatives 34th District position, in 2010, placing first in the primary and runoff and winning the general election. A Democratic member of the Arkansas House of Representatives since January 2011, Walker served four terms representing District 34. Walker served as a principal at John W. Walker law firm in Little Rock, Arkansas and practiced law throughout Arkansas and the surrounding states.
Walker has been involved with numerous organizations, including the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the National Bar Association, and the Southern Trial Lawyers Association. He was a recipient of the Lawyer of the Year Award by the Arkansas Bar Association and national awards from the National Bar Association (NBA), American Trial Lawyers Association, NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Walker has five adult children.
Walker passed away on October 28, 2019.
John Walker, Sr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 15, 2018.