Interview, Rev. John Walker

May 1, 1980

The Reverend John Walker was born in Columbus, Ohio. He joined the United States Army during the Korean War, and after his service, he attended Marris College in South Carolina, where he graduated top of his class. Called to the ministry, Walker enrolled at the Colgate Divinity School in Rochester, graduating in 1969. He went on to earn his PhD at Syracuse University and became a visiting lecturer in Rochester. In 1973, Walker became the director of the Baden Street Settlement Counseling Center, and in 1978, he became director of the Seventh Step Foundation. He also worked with FIGHT (Freedom, Integration, God, Honor, Today) and the Marcus Garvey Black Solidarity Committee, and he wrote for Communique, a black-run Rochester newspaper.

In this interview, Walker discusses his involvement with civil rights groups such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Walker reports that conditions for black Rochesterians at the time of the interview are worse than they were in the 1960s due to lack of education, poor employment opportunities, and lack of fair housing. In Walker’s opinion, black churches represent the strongest opportunity to organize the community and push for change.

Content Tags


  • 1960s
  • 1970s
  • 1980s