Alumnus Left Mark on Chicago

William Walker in 1971. (Chicago Tribune / September 14, 2011)

Alumnus William Walker passed away this week, but his memory and legacy will continue.

The Chicago Sun-Times recently published an article depicting William Walker’s life as an artist on the streets of downtown Chicago painting with and for the community.

The article described how Walker came to Columbus College of Art & Design in 1953 and was one of two black artists enrolled at the time. He maintained his studies while also serving with the Army Air Corps.

At a time when African American’s were seldom seen in mainstream media or history books, Walker took a step to change this by creating the “Wall of Respect.”

According to the article, the “Wall of Respect” was painted in 1967, featuring 50 African American political, religious, artistic, and sport icons. Nearly 20 other artist, all involved in the Organization of Black American Culture, assisted in the creation of this mural. The inscription on the wall read, “Honor our Black Heroes, and to Beautify our Community.”

The wall was destroyed by a fire in 1971, but it had already made its impression as a political focal point and had been re-worked to incorporate current events.

The article states that this mural would begin to mark Walker, who recently passed away, as one of the father’s of the community mural movement.

He later co-founded Chicago Mural Group in 1970 and continued to be an active painter until 1988.

Out of the two dozen murals Walker painted across Chicago, three remain intact and still visible.

Read the full article here.