Ark. law­maker, civil rights at­tor­ney John Walker dies

The Saline Courier - - NEWS -

LIT­TLE ROCK — John Walker, an Arkansas law­maker and civil rights at­tor­ney who rep­re­sented black stu­dents in a long-run­ning court fight over the de­seg­re­ga­tion of Lit­tle Rock area schools, has died. He was 82.

The Pu­laski County coroner said Walker died at his Lit­tle Rock home Mon­day morn­ing but the cause of death was not yet known. Fu­neral ar­range­ments are pend­ing.

Walker, a Demo­crat, had rep­re­sented a Lit­tle Rock dis­trict in the state House since 2011. He had been in­volved in some of the state’s most high-pro­file dis­crim­i­na­tion and civil rights cases, in­clud­ing the de­seg­re­ga­tion case, which stemmed from a 1982 law­suit the Lit­tle Rock school dis­trict filed against the state and neigh­bor­ing dis­tricts over racial dis­par­i­ties that re­mained decades af­ter the 1957 in­te­gra­tion of Cen­tral High School.

“What he did in this state made a dif­fer­ence for ev­ery­one in this state,” state Sen. Joyce El­liott, chair­woman of the Leg­isla­tive Black Cau­cus. “I don’t think ev­ery­one will re­al­ize the full mea­sure of that for quite some time.”

Fed­eral judges have ruled

Lit­tle Rock and North Lit­tle Rock schools sub­stan­tially com­plied with a 1998 de­seg­re­ga­tion plan, and the two re­main­ing dis­tricts in the case are seek­ing re­lease.

For­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton praised Walker as a “de­voted pub­lic ser­vant who spent his life fight­ing to give all Arkansans the op­por­tu­nity to suc­ceed.”

“From the court­room to the Capi­tol, he never wa­vered in his pur­suit of jus­tice or his be­lief that a democ­racy only works when ev­ery­one can par­tic­i­pate fully,” Clin­ton said in a state­ment. “I’m grate­ful for his more than 40 years of friend­ship and the way he lived his life, giv­ing and serv­ing un­til the very end.”

Walker had also rep­re­sented for­mer Ra­zor­backs bas­ket­ball coach Nolan Richardson in his un­suc­cess­ful law­suit against the Univer­sity of Arkansas chal­leng­ing his 2002 fir­ing. Richardson had claimed he was fired be­cause he was black and that his free-speech rights were vi­o­lated.

“He was al­ways the un­der­dog, but would fight to be on top,” Richardson said Mon­day.

In re­cent years, Walker crit­i­cized the state’s 2015 takeover of the Lit­tle Rock School Dis­trict be­cause of low test scores at sev­eral schools.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.