Event to salute legacy of Hershel Walker

ST. LOUIS – The 12th annual Hershel Walker Peace and Justice Awards Breakfast is slated to take place on Saturday, April 24, at the Postal Workers Union Hall, 1717 S. Broadway Blvd. Featured speakers include John Bowman, former state representative from the 70th district and candidate for that same office in November, and Roberta Wood, labor editor of the People’s Weekly World.

Hershel Walker was born in 1909 in Forrest City, Ark. After moving to St. Louis in 1929, Walker devoted his entire adult life to the cause of the working class, peace, and justice. Joining the Young Communist League in 1930 (and later the Communist Party, which he was never to leave), Walker became active in civil rights struggles such as the fight to save the lives of the framed-up Scottsboro youths and the fight to save the life of Mrs. Rosa Lee Ingram.

In 1932, Walker took part in a march of the unemployed on City Hall in St. Louis. Such struggles as this march led to the passage of the Wagner Act, which gave unions the right to organize.

During the late 1940s and 1950s, when attacks on the Communists took the form of the infamous “witch hunts,” Walker never lost his bearings, although he was subpoenaed to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee.

He led the St. Louis Negro Labor Council in the fight to secure jobs for African Americans at Sears Roebuck and the Transit Company. He also was a tireless activist in the peace movement and the movement to defend the rights of prisoners. In the 1960s and 1970s he took part in the Jefferson Bank demonstrations, the defense of Angela Davis, and the American Friends Service Committee.

He was an active member of Immanuel Lutheran Church. In 1990, he was tragically killed in an auto accident while he was on his way to deliver petitions to stop the closing of Chrysler Plant No. 1 in Fenton, Mo., to save the jobs of 4,000 auto workers.

For more information about the April 24 breakfast, call (314) 367-7145 or e-mail tonypec@pww.org.