The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

William "Sonny" Walker

Share on Social Media

Information about William "Sonny" Walker

Profile image of William "Sonny" Walker

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Management Consulting Entrepreneur
Civil Rights Activist
Nonprofit Chief Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Cream, Crimson
Favorite Food:
Seafood
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall, Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
West Indies
Favorite Quote:
Out Of The Night That Covers Me, Black As The Pit From Pole To Pole, I Thank Whatever Gods May Be, For My Unconquerable Soul.

Birthplace

Born:
12/13/1933
Birth Location:
Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Management Consulting Entrepreneur
Civil Rights Activist
Nonprofit Chief Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Cream, Crimson
Favorite Food:
Seafood
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall, Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
West Indies
Favorite Quote:
Out Of The Night That Covers Me, Black As The Pit From Pole To Pole, I Thank Whatever Gods May Be, For My Unconquerable Soul.

Birthplace

Born:
12/13/1933
Birth Location:
Pine Bluff
See how William "Sonny" Walker is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Civil rights activist, nonprofit chief executive, and management consulting entrepreneur William “Sonny” Walker was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He received his B.A. degree from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and went on to teach in Arkansas public schools. In 1956, in the wake of the Brown vs. Board U.S. Supreme Court decisions, Walker helped to prepare the Little Rock Nine to integrate Little Rock Central High School. Walker went on to manage the campaign of T. E. Patterson, the first African American elected to the Arkansas School Board.

In 1965, Walker started the Crusade for Opportunity, one of the first Head Start programs in the U.S. and then began serving as director of the Economic Opportunity Agency of Little Rock and Pulsaki County. Throughout this time, Walker worked to promote integration of everything from television news anchors to the local chapter of the United States Junior Chamber. In 1969, Walker began serving as Governor Winthrop Rockefeller’s head of the Arkansas State Economic Opportunity Office. He was the first African American to hold such a position in a Southern governor’s cabinet.

Walker moved to Atlanta, Georgia in 1972, and began serving as a division director for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Renewal. In 1976, Walker became a member of the Board of Directors for the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. Walker eventually became Coretta Scott-King’ speech writer and in 1994, he served as interim director of the King Center. Walker went on to found the consulting company the Sonny Walker Group, which specializes in networking, marketing, and employee training.

Walker was a member of the board of trustees of Morris-Brown College, the board of directors of the Butler Street YMCA, the EduPac Action Committee, and the Georgia Partnership for Education Excellence. He was heavily involved with many other community organizations and received numerous awards, including the Community Service Award from the Atlanta Business League, the Distinguished Community Service Award from the National Urban League, the Outstanding Public Servant in the State of Georgia Award from the Georgia Senate and House of Representatives, and the Lyndon B. Johnson Award from the National Association of Community Action Agencies.

William “Sonny” Walker was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 21, 2011.

Walker passed away on June 15, 2016.

See how William "Sonny" Walker is related to other HistoryMakers
Loading...
Click Here To Explore The Archive Today!
  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of William "Sonny" Walker's interview, session 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - William "Sonny" Walker lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - William "Sonny" Walker describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - William "Sonny" Walker talks about his father's education and career
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - William "Sonny" Walker remembers his paternal grandparents
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - William "Sonny" Walker describes his paternal great-grandparents
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - William "Sonny" Walker remembers his paternal great-grandmother's immediate relatives
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - William "Sonny" Walker remembers his paternal great-great-grandfather
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - William "Sonny" Walker describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - William "Sonny" Walker remembers meeting his mother
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - William "Sonny" Walker describes his stepmother, Nettie Harris Walker
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - William "Sonny" Walker talks about his half sister
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - William "Sonny" Walker describes the sights, sounds and smells of childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - William "Sonny" Walker talks about his early education
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - William "Sonny" Walker remembers the influential people from his youth
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - William "Sonny" Walker remembers World War II
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - William "Sonny" Walker recalls his experiences during the Great Depression
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - William "Sonny" Walker remembers the end of World War II
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - William "Sonny" Walker describes his extracurricular activities
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - William "Sonny" Walker recalls attending Merrill High School in Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - William "Sonny" Walker describes his early after school jobs
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - William "Sonny" Walker recalls his decision to attend the Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical and Normal College in Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - William "Sonny" Walker remembers attending Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical and Normal College
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - William "Sonny" Walker remembers his influences at Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical and Normal College in Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - William "Sonny" Walker recalls his connection to Thurgood Marshall
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - William "Sonny" Walker describes his former wife Loraine Tate and their children
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - William "Sonny" Walker talks about the racial climate in Arkansas during the 1950s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - William "Sonny" Walker recalls teaching in Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - William "Sonny" Walker describes the discrimination faced by the Little Rock Nine
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - William "Sonny" Walker talks about members of the Little Rock Nine
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - William "Sonny" Walker remembers Ozell Sutton
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - William "Sonny" Walker recalls his time as president of the Arkansas Teachers Association Department of Classroom Teachers
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - William "Sonny" Walker remembers advocating for equal pay for teachers
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - William "Sonny" Walker describes the violence of the mid-1960s
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - William "Sonny" Walker recalls meeting President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - William "Sonny" Walker describes his involvement with Crusade for Opportunity
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - William Sonny Walker recalls his role with the National Head Start Association
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - William "Sonny" Walker recalls his efforts to desegregate in Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - William "Sonny" Walker talks about the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - William "Sonny" Walker recalls disarming the Black United Youth group in Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - William "Sonny" Walker describes Dale Bumper's gubernatorial campaign
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - William "Sonny" Walker recalls working for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Slating of William "Sonny" Walker's interview, session 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - William "Sonny" Walker remembers his move to Atlanta, Georgia
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - William "Sonny" Walker describes the growth of Atlanta, Georgia in the 1970s
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - William "Sonny" Walker recalls his role with the Office of Economic Opportunity
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - William "Sonny" Walker remembers affirmative action initiatives under the Richard Nixon administration
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - William "Sonny" Walker recalls the changes in the Democratic Party during the 1970s
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - William "Sonny" Walker remembers the changes in the national political landscape in the 1970s
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - William "Sonny" Walker describes the political landscape of Atlanta, Georgia in the 1970s
  • Tape: 7 Story: 9 - William "Sonny" Walker recalls Maynard H. Jackson, Jr.'s mayoral campaign in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - William "Sonny" Walker recalls transitioning to the National Alliance of Business
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - William "Sonny" Walker talks about his support of African American owned banks in the South
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - William "Sonny" Walker describes his work with the National Alliance of Business
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - William "Sonny" Walker talks about working with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - William "Sonny" Walker recalls improving Coretta Scott King's public speaking skills
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - William "Sonny" Walker talks about the formation of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change
  • Tape: 8 Story: 7 - William "Sonny" Walker remembers the activities created to memorialize Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Tape: 8 Story: 8 - William "Sonny" Walker talks about working with Stevie Wonder, Harry Belafonte and Nelson Mandela
  • Tape: 8 Story: 9 - William "Sonny" Walker recalls becoming director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change
  • Tape: 9 Story: 1 - William "Sonny" Walker describes the historic Auburn Avenue in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Tape: 9 Story: 2 - William "Sonny" Walker recalls the leadership changes at The King Center in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Tape: 9 Story: 3 - William "Sonny" Walker talks about the future of The King Center
  • Tape: 9 Story: 4 - William "Sonny" Walker describes his decision to support Hillary Rodham Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign
  • Tape: 9 Story: 5 - William "Sonny" Walker shares his views of President Barack Obama's administration
  • Tape: 9 Story: 6 - William "Sonny" Walker describes his civic involvement in the Atlanta, Georgia
  • Tape: 9 Story: 7 - William "Sonny" Walker talks about his consultant work at Sonny Walker Group
  • Tape: 9 Story: 8 - William "Sonny" Walker describes his hopes for the African American community
  • Tape: 10 Story: 1 - William "Sonny" Walker remembers the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Tape: 10 Story: 2 - William "Sonny" Walker talks about the Atlanta Missing and Murdered Children cases
  • Tape: 10 Story: 3 - William "Sonny" Walker reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 10 Story: 4 - William "Sonny" Walker reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 10 Story: 5 - William "Sonny" Walker describes how he would like to be remembered