Herschel Walker

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Herschel Walker, was a Missouri trade unionist and civil rights leader who died in 1990. Born in 1909 in Arkansas, Walker moved to St. Louis in 1929. Walker joined the Young Communist League USA in 1930 and spent the rest of his life in the Communist Party USA "fighting for social justice". [1]

Wagner Electric Company

In 1942, Herschel Walker went to work at the Wagner Electric Company where he stayed for 29 years. During the war period, he and other progressive trade unionists organized against racist hiring and promotion policies that predominated at Wagner. Most black workers were hired for janitorial and transport jobs. He organized a group that forced the union, United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of the CIO, to oppose these restrictions.

Activism

In 1930 Walker joined the St.Louis Unemployed Council, and later the International Labor Defense Committee.

In the late 1940s walker became active in the Civil Rights Congress. In 1951 he was a delegate to the founding convention of the Negro Labor Council in Cincinnatti, Ohio, later founding the St. Louis branch.

In 1972 he organized the Angela Davis Defense Committee and later chaired the St.Louis National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression.

In 1977, the American Friends Service Committee sent Walker on a five nation tour of Africa.[2]

Hershel Walker worked with the March on Washington movement to protest racist hiring practices of the Small Arms U.S. Cartridge plant on Goodfellow. Following the protest, the company agreed to hire a percentage of black workers that corresponded to the population of St. Louis.

Walker organized black and white trade unionists and community supporters to march in front of the Sears store on Kingshighway, demanding that black women be hired as sales clerks. After a protracted struggle, Sears agreed to their demands. Based on that victory, the group moved forward in a successful campaign to get black drivers hired at the local bus and streetcar companies.

He was involved in the struggle to mobilize against Jefferson Bank’s discriminatory policies. He helped mobilize many St. Louis resident for the 1963 March on Washington.

At age 81, Mr. Walker was still working on achieving equality for all. He was deeply involved inSouth African Anti-Apartheid struggles. He walked the picket line during the Shell Boycotts. Herschel Walker was killed in a car accident while on his way to deliver petitions for a campaign to save 4,000 jobs at Chrysler Plant #1 in Fenton.[3]

References