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Joe Walker enjoyed professional and personal relationships with a number of dignitaries, civil rights activists,

 and freedom fighters to include Martin Luther King, Jr., Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Angela Davis,

Adam Clayton Powell Jr., James Baldwin, Hulan Jack, and David Dinkins, the former Mayor of NYC.



Obituary of Joe Walker

Muhammad Speaks International Correspondent


Joseph Walker (1934-2007; 73), an award wining journalist and labor advocate, died August 14 in New York City after a short illness.  A longtime resident of Harlem for over 40 years, Mr. Walker covered the African American people’s struggle and other progressive struggles around the world whether those other movements were nationalist, socialist, communist, anti-imperialist, or organized labor.  In 1976 he received the Julius Fucik Honorary Medal from the International Organization of Journalists.  The Medal was in recognition of his outstanding achievement in journalism in the fight against colonialism, racism and fascism, and for world peace and understanding.

Born in Buffalo, New York on March 11, 1934 to the late Luther and Emma Walker, he graduated from Buffalo's East High School and then attended Champlain College in  Plattsburgh, NY (1952-1953) and Adelphi University in Garden City, NY (1953-1955).  In 1955 Walker joined the US Army and served honorably in Germany.  In 1957 he returned to Buffalo and began his journalistic career, first as a reporter and then as the editor of the Buffalo Empire Star, a weekly black owned newspaper.

Using his pen to expose segregation and bias in Buffalo, he wrote many courageous and honest articles that brought him to the attention of Malcolm X and many supporters of civil rights.  When financial difficulties forced the closure of the Empire Star, Walker accepted a job in New York City as a reporter and correspondent for Muhammad Speaks, the newspaper of the Nation of Islam and, at that time, the largest Black Newspaper in the nation.  

Initially Joe covered domestic events, such as the police assault on the Muslim mosque in Harlem, the Attica Prison assaults and the Angela Davis trial.  Walker and his  photographer, Joe Crawford, conducted the interviews and shot the photos that helped launched the international movement to defend Ms Davis.  

During these years, Joe Walker and Joe Crawford also assembled and produced three anthologies of work of outstanding African-American photographers—The Black Photographers Annuals, which have become an outstanding record of the Black experience.  Forewords and Introductions to these annuals were written without pay by Gordon Parks, James Baldwin, Toni  Morrison, and Clayton Riley.

Eventually Walker became the New York City Bureau Chief of Muhammad Speaks and its successor, Bilalian News. He also became the United Nations Bureau Chief for Muhammad Speaks and covered events around the world.  He traveled to over sixty countries and attended many conferences and other international gatherings.  From his travels he wrote a series of featured articles on the Middle East, North Korea, Cuba, the Vietnamese War, the Islamic areas of the Soviet Union and other critical hot spots of the 1960s and ‘70s.

John Woodford, the former editor-in-chief of Muhammad Speaks, said, "Joe was a journalistic super-star of the progressive world. He covered events worldwide and was revered by freedom fighters, such as Nguyen Thi Madame Binh, a Vietnamese delegate to the Paris Peace Talks; Dolores Huerta of the United Farm Workers Union; the Afro-Russian journalists Slava Tynes and Lily Golden; the Cuban Diplomat Ricardo Alarcon; and leading figures in many of the anti-imperialist African liberation movements, such as the ANC (African National Congress), FRELIMO (Front for the Liberation of  Mozambique), MPLA (Movement For The Popular Liberation Of Angola), ZAPU (Zimbabwe African People's Union), and SWAPO (Southwest African People's Organization)."

From his father, who was the president of the Buffalo branch of the Dining Car Employees Union, Joe Walker grasped an early understanding of the trade union struggle and extended his work to include trade unionism.  In 1963 he began work in New York City for Local 1199, the Drug and Hospital Employees Union, AFL-CIO, where he was the Editor of Union Publications. 

Later he worked at Local 144, the Hotel, Hospital, Nursing Home and Allied Health Services Union, where he was Editor of publications and director of public relations; and in Albany at the New York State Public Employees Federation (PEF) where he was a public relations specialist and editor of publications.

In 1996 Joe Walker also became a college instructor, teaching popular courses on the history of the Black Press at the City College of New York's Center for Worker Education.  He also maintained his hand in journalism by writing articles for several black newspapers.   His last job, from which he retired, was as an Account Developer for the Worker Opportunities Re-Employment Center (WORC).

During his life, Joe Walker enjoyed professional and personal relationships with a number of dignitaries, civil rights activists, and freedom fighters to include Martin Luther King, Jr., Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Angela Davis, Adam Clayton Powell Jr., James Baldwin, Hulan Jack, and David Dinkins, the former Mayor of NYC.

Survivors include his wife Isabel Castro Walker of Manhattan, now in the Bronx Nursing Home; his step-son Joseph Cole of the Bronx; three grandchildren: Joseph Cole Jr. and Faith Cole of Queens and Tiana Cole of Florida; his brother Emmett Walker of Fort Washington MD; a niece, Lisa Walker of Columbia MD, a nephew, Emmett Walker Jr. of Atlanta; and a host of loving colleagues and friends.

Other Information:  Joe Walker was a long time resident at 334 East 108th Street, New York , NY. At his death he was a resident of the Bronx Center for Rehabilitation and Health Care (Nursing Home), at 1010 Underhill Ave, Bronx, NY 10472. Joe developed an infection which did not respond to treatment.

Ackerman's Funeral Chapel, 725 Gunn Hill Road, Bronx, NY 10467 arranged his cremation. Certificate of death was issued by NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on Aug 17th, certificate No. 156-07-033475. 

Photos:  Pictures of Joe Walker can be forwarded to include: Joe Walker single picture; Joe Walker interviewing Martin Luther King, Jr.; Joe Walker interviewing Adam Clayton Powell Jr.; Joe Walker and Muhammad Ali; Joe Walker and James Baldwin; Joe Walker and Angela Davis, Joe Walker and former NY city major David Dinkins and many  others.

Contact: LTC (ret) Emmett L. Walker, Brother / 7731 Loudon Drive, Fort Washington MD, 20744 / (301) 248 8240. Cell: (240) 353-557

posted 9 September 2007

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

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