John W. Walker
Attorney at Law
John Winfred Walker
John Winfred Walker was born in Hope, Arkansas where he attended Yerger High School until 1952. He graduated from Jack Yates High School in Houston, Texas in 1954. He was the first African American undergraduate student admitted to the University of Texas after the Brown decision in 1954 but was not allowed to attend for racial reasons. In 1958, he graduated from Arkansas A M & N College in Pine Bluff, Arkansas with a degree in Sociology; in 1961 he received a Masters degree from New York University; and in 1964 he received a law degree from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.
Walker’s first work was as an attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in New York. He has remained associated as a cooperating attorney and later as a member of the Board of LDF. In 1965, Walker began the general practice of law in Little Rock, Arkansas with the emphasis on civil rights. In 1968, he opened one of the first three racially integrated law firms in the south, first known as Walker and Chachkin.
Between 1965 and now, Walker has personally been involved in most of the reported cases which involve racial discrimination in the state of Arkansas. Many of them are landmark having created new law and opened doors to school houses and work places throughout the state of Arkansas and surrounding states. One case has continued to take his time since 1965, the Little Rock school case started by the late Wiley Branton and LDF general counsel/later Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Many of Walker’s early cases involved classes of people discriminated against due to their race in mega corporate environments.
A recent case of Walker’s was the only nationwide racial discrimination case ever successfully prosecuted against Wal-Mart. It involved a class of African American truck drivers. Walker’s work has created many changes causing him to be honored and hated at the same time by public officials, corporate leaders and members of the legal profession.
He has received national awards from the National Bar Association, the American Trial Lawyers Association, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and the American Civil Liberties Union. In 2004, he was awarded the designation as Southern Trial Lawyer of the Year with its War Horse award. Walker continues an active practice of law and is involved in the social, civic, religious and political activities of the state of Arkansas. He
was elected to the Arkansas State Legislature on a pledge to “open doors and widen opportunities” for people left out and left behind in the struggle for racial, economic and Walker has five children, thirteen grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
He is a member of Wesley United Methodist Church. He continues to practice law throughout Arkansas and surrounding states.