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

The Honorable Charles Walker

Attorney Charles Edward Walker, Jr., was born on May 1, 1951, in Anchorage, Alaska, to Marguerite Pearl Lee and Colonel Charles E. Walker, Sr. Walker received his B.A. degree in political science from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1973 and his J.D. degree from Boston College Law School in 1978.

In 1974, Walker began working as an English teacher for the Oxnard Union High School District in Oxnard, California. After leaving the school district in 1975, Walker studied at the London School of Economics, where he earned his B.S. degree in 1977. After returning to the United States, Walker moved to Massachusetts and worked as an attorney for the Department of Agriculture Office of General Counsel. He then served as a law clerk under the Honorable James Lynch for the Boston Superior Court until 1980.

After leaving the Boston Superior Court, Walker worked as a law clerk at the Massachusetts Court of Appeals for the Honorable Frederick L. Brown, who was the first African American to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals in Massachusetts. Walker resigned from this position in 1981 and began working as a teaching fellow for Suffolk University Law School’s Council on Legal Education Opportunity, while at the same time serving as an instructor at the University of Massachusetts. Shortly thereafter, Walker began working as the Assistant Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts under then Attorney General Francis X. Bellotti. There, Walker defended state agencies and officials in all the state and federal trial and appellate courts of Massachusetts.

After leaving the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1987, Walker worked briefly as an assistant professor at the New England School of Law, before beginning a six year tenure as the Chairman of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD), which ended in 1998. In 2000, Walker served as an administrative judge with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Department of Industrial Accidents, where he completed a four year term ending on September 20, 2004.

Walker has received several awards for his success in the legal arena, including the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly’s “Top Ten Lawyers of the Year” in 1997 and the 75th Anniversary Distinguished Alumnus Award from Boston College Law School’s Alumni Association.

Accession Number

A2007.251

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/10/2007 |and| 9/12/2007

Last Name

Walker

Maker Category
Middle Name

E.

Schools

Adolfo Camarillo High School

Moorpark College

University of California-Santa Barbara

Boston College Law School

First Name

Charles

Birth City, State, Country

Anchorage

HM ID

WAL10

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Alaska

Favorite Vacation Destination

Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, Caribbean

Favorite Quote

Any Landing That You Can Walk Away From Is A Good One.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

5/1/1951

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Boston

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken

Short Description

State administrative judge and state assistant attorney general The Honorable Charles Walker (1951 - ) received several awards over his career, including the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly magazine’s “Top Ten Lawyers of the Year” in 1997, and the 75th Anniversary Distinguished Alumnus Award from Boston College Law School’s Alumni Association.

Employment

Massachusetts Attorney General Office

Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination

Administrative Judge

Lawyers'​ Committee for Civil Rights

Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:3424,77:7652,172:11410,187:21980,290:22990,306:24404,329:27580,356:27888,361:40910,531:43105,553:44050,562:48500,588:52357,625:55436,655:55828,660:75144,849:75574,866:82196,988:82626,994:91366,1167:91701,1173:97748,1266:100414,1374:113320,1565:120130,1644:123870,1734:140345,1901:145165,2017:146085,2027:168107,2441:170680,2504:172257,2533:186498,2749:187746,2790:200972,2959:203100,3007:207584,3105:221069,3307:221982,3329:222397,3335:228663,3410:237580,3643:238030,3653:238330,3658:242455,3755:242755,3760:254100,3924$0,0:592,18:1628,32:2368,43:2886,51:7548,142:8954,169:24663,366:31415,432:35835,507:37365,536:37705,541:48558,598:49173,604:50526,618:56510,675:57104,687:57566,696:59650,708:60380,721:60818,728:80010,893:94880,1025:96490,1038:97447,1053:97795,1058:112575,1248:112955,1253:113430,1259:116120,1273:116638,1281:116934,1286:117674,1297:118562,1349:120338,1383:122706,1431:123002,1436:124186,1458:125074,1479:125592,1488:130283,1525:131273,1536:135874,1602:136610,1612:141394,1704:141762,1709:143786,1733:144246,1739:157072,1843:159396,1872:160641,1904:162384,1956:163131,1966:166682,2006:167639,2019:168422,2029:178610,2166:178958,2173:190604,2335:190972,2340:191892,2351:193800,2361:197835,2391:198311,2397:200920,2406:201392,2411:203398,2427:210989,2543:213496,2581:218294,2615:226690,2713:227170,2722:232070,2755:241050,2840
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Charles Walker's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Charles Walker lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Charles Walker describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Charles Walker describes his maternal grandparents' farm in Gahanna, Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Charles Walker remembers his maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Charles Walker describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Charles Walker describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Charles Walker describes his paternal family's migration to Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Charles Walker remembers his paternal aunt, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Charles Walker remembers his paternal aunt, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Charles Walker describes his father's interests

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Charles Walker remembers his father's military career, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Charles Walker remembers his father's military career, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Charles Walker describes his parents' personalities

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Charles Walker describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Charles Walker describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Charles Walker remember his sister, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Charles Walker remember his sister, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable Charles Walker describes his early education

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - The Honorable Charles Walker remembers his high school counselor

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Charles Walker recalls his experiences of discrimination in California

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Charles Walker remembers confronting a racist teacher

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Charles Walker recalls Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's assassination

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Charles Walker recalls joining Adolfo Camarillo High School's track team

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Charles Walker describes his early interest in drawing

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Charles Walker remembers meeting Charles M. Schulz

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Charles Walker remembers a performance by James Brown

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Charles Walker recalls his aspirations at Moorpark College in Moorpark, California

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Charles Walker describes his extracurricular activities

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - The Honorable Charles Walker remembers joining the Church of God in Christ

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Charles Walker talks about his religious upbringing

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Charles Walker recalls his decision to join the Church of God in Christ

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Charles Walker describes his experience as a standup comedian

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Charles Walker remembers working as a teacher

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Charles Walker recalls his decision to attend the Boston College Law School

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Charles Walker describes his studies at the Boston College Law School

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Charles Walker recalls moving to Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Charles Walker talks about affirmative action policies, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Charles Walker talks about affirmative action policies, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Charles Walker recalls his aspiration to practice entertainment law

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Charles Walker recalls working as a law clerk

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Charles Walker remembers Richard G. Huber

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Charles Walker recalls his first civil rights case, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable Charles Walker recalls his first civil rights case, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - The Honorable Charles Walker talks about the Roxbury Defenders Committee

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - The Honorable Charles Walker recalls his experiences as a law professor

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - The Honorable Charles Walker describes the history of liquor licensing in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - The Honorable Charles Walker describes the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - The Honorable Charles Walker talks about the African Meeting House in Boston, Massachusetts, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - The Honorable Charles Walker talks about the African Meeting House in Boston, Massachusetts, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - The Honorable Charles Walker recalls the lawsuit against Tom English's Cottage in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - The Honorable Charles Walker recalls the case of Lule Said v. Northeast Security, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - The Honorable Charles Walker recalls defending a black police officer in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - The Honorable Charles Walker talks about his reputation as an attorney

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - The Honorable Charles Walker remembers receiving death threats

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - The Honorable Charles Walker remembers becoming an administrative judge

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - The Honorable Charles Walker recalls his experiences as an administrative judge

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - The Honorable Charles Walker recalls joining Governor Deval L. Patrick's administration

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - The Honorable Charles Walker remembers dismissing a discrimination case, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - The Honorable Charles Walker remembers dismissing a discrimination case, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - The Honorable Charles Walker talks about Macon Bolling Allen

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - The Honorable Charles Walker describes the history of civil rights law, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - The Honorable Charles Walker describes the history of civil rights law, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - The Honorable Charles Walker talks about his plans for the future

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - The Honorable Charles Walker describes his hopes for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - The Honorable Charles Walker reflects upon his career

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - The Honorable Charles Walker reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - The Honorable Charles Walker talks about his family

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - The Honorable Charles Walker describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$2

DATape

2$6

DAStory

11$1

DATitle
The Honorable Charles Walker remembers his high school counselor
The Honorable Charles Walker describes the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination
Transcript
What was your favorite subject in school? Did you have a favorite?$$In high school [Adolfo Camarillo High School, Camarillo, California]?$$Yeah.$$I liked--one of the most impressionable classes was Mrs. Tiner's [ph.] English class. And up to that point, I really wasn't much of a reader, much, much of a writer. But there was something about Mrs. Tiner that really got me to read and write and understand 'cause I really thought I was, I thought I was stupid really. I thought I was, I thought, I didn't think I was, I had the intellectual power to read and write with any force. In fact, I was in--I wasn't even put in college prep classes. And my high school counselor was Mr. Wozniak, Ed Wozniak [ph.], W-O-Z-N-I-A-K (laughter). I'll never get him, I'll never get over him. And I was just as happy--if I'm going too far off field, let me know. But I was just as happy to come home at 3:30, get some Oreo cookies, drink some milk, watch 'Felix the Cat' and 'Sky King,' and all these guys, and then go to bed--no homework. And then, my mother [Marguerite Lee Walker] complained. And my father [Charles E. Walker] went to Mr. Wozniak, and he brought me in there with him. And Mr. Wozniak had his chart 'cause he knew, and he showed where I scored on the standardized test--how poorly I'd done. And he had this, even my names of my friends. I'll never get over this. My white friends, he says, you know, 'cause he knew who I hung out with, like Timmy [ph.] and Mickey [ph.] and, and John [ph.], Spon [ph.]. "They--this is where they are (laughter). This is where you are, Chuckie [HistoryMaker Charles Walker]." And, you know, like the nerve of you to come in here and act like, you know, you come. You know, and he just humiliated me in front of my father. And my father said, "Chuckie, can you excuse us for a minute (laughter)?" And I used to tell this story, I used to well up when I thought about it. But I would go out, and I went out in the little hall, and sat at the bench. And this is coming in from eighth grade into high school. And he was in there five minutes. I remember we walked out and it was a little unusual. Mr. Wozniak didn't, didn't come out with him. And so, I was walking. He said, "C'mon, champ." That's what my dad used to call me--champ. And we walked down the hall and I was wondering if he killed Mr. Wozniak (laughter). That's all I was thinking about (laughter). And I remember that Monday. He says, "You're going to get in a few different classes." And I remember, I remember (laughter), Mr. Wozniak meeting me at the, at the bus stop, and he took me to all these different classes. You asked me about my teacher--this is how I got to meet Mrs. Tiner. And Mr. Wozniak, you know, I think he did it out of just defiance and just sarcasm. He put me in all these honors classes, expecting me to flunk out and really humiliate me. And I shined. I did really well in English. And that was the class where I found myself. That's a, that's a long way of getting to it. And then I ran for student body president and I, and I was on the Key Club through the Kiwanis Club [Kiwanis International]. And I, you know, I became, you know, I really got to feel my oats. I became an artist actually and I became a cartoonist. And I had a couple of strips in the, in the local newspapers and stuff, and it was '65 [1965] through '69 [1969]. Well, you know, it was--those are incredible years because you had Kennedy [President John Fitzgerald Kennedy] assassinated when we have seventh grade, '63 [1963]. You get King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] assassinated when I was a junior in high school. You have Bobby Kennedy [Robert F. Kennedy], gets assassinated after King. And I was in high school during all those times. And the Watts riots in '65 [1965] out of, out of Los Angeles [California]. You know, it was just an incredibly turbulent race time.$Tell me about the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. Now, you were, you served with that organization for six years--first, as commissioner, and later as chairman, right?$$Yeah, I think that's where I really carved a lot of my teeth. People kind of freeze frame me based upon what I did at the, at the MCAD. I have a lot of history before that, but something about I was in the news a lot, depressed a lot, and not looking for it, but it just happened. It's the, it's the premier, and the second oldest--I want to--in some circles, people would say the oldest anti-discrimination state agency in the country. It's charged in overseeing anti-discrimination laws in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations. And established in 1945, I believe or '44 [1944], which when you think of it, was pretty significant. That's like twenty years before--I mean, ten years before Brown v. Board of Education [Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 1954]. And you had a real--it's almost an acerbic tradition of segregation in this country. And you had, even in Massachusetts, you had a lot of discrimination. And so for the mayor, Maurice Tobin [Maurice J. Tobin]--I mean, mayor--the governor, Maurice Tobin, committed some state funds to this federal fair employment practices act [Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII] which had been defunded by [U.S.] Congress. And it was originally established to stop discrimination in the employment arena, at least to address it a little bit, through the Fourteenth Amendment and equal protection clauses. And they codified it for states by making a fair employment practices act--Congress did. They had some money behind it and to give states the incentive to bring this fair employment practices law into fruition. And, like I said around 1944, they defunded it. And Maurice Tobin stepped up the plate and says, oh, no, no, no, this is very important. And he donated--I mean, he allocated money or appropriated money to keep, to maintain its continued existence. And over the years, all the way up through the, up to the '70s [1970s], its, its jurisdictional base was expanded to include public accommodations laws, you know, can't--where you can't be denied a right to sit in a restaurant or something like that, and housing discrimination. It's called a Fair Employment Practices Agency or FEPA, F-E-P-A. And then, they had fair housing, a FHAP agency, F-H-A-P, Fair Housing Act [sic. Fair Housing Assistance Program]--I forget what everything stood for. But, anyway, prohibiting discrimination in housing as well. Anyway, despite that history, I was, I was commissioner and in 1994, and one of the reasons I wanted my interview here was that I selected this venue to be sworn in by the governor, and right upstairs, in 1994. It was such a stressful time.