David Walker Bio

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Abolitionist, author (1785? – 1830)

Considered to be the first militant African American, David Walker advocated violent revolts by slaves.

David Walker was born free in North Carolina. His mother was white and his father was a slave. Under North Carolina law at the time, the status of the child was the status of the mother. There is no definite documentation indicating when he learned to read and write. It appears that he was familiar with Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia (1785) by the time he moved North.

Walker settled in Boston and opened a used clothing store. He was an active member of the Massachusetts General Colored Association. He addressed an 1828 meeting of the association telling the members to improve themselves through mutual aid and self-help organizations. Walked condemned those who were passive about racial injustice. He called on them to reject Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia, which stated that Blacks were inferior.

David Walker Bio

Walker published An Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World in 1829. The Appeal was an indictment of racial inequality in the United States and in Africa. It challenged slaves and free men to take control of their lives. It called for slaves to rebel and forcibly overthrow slavery.

Walker’s distribution of his pamphlet was by mail and by seamen traveling to Southern ports. When Southern leaders found out about the pamphlet, they passed strict laws against seditious literature and against teaching Blacks to read and write. The Georgia state legislature placed a bounty on Walker. Northern abolitionists were very critical of Walker’s Appeal because of its call for violence. Nine months after publishing his Appeal, Walker died under mysterious circumstances.