Biographical / Historical
Charles Coates Walker (1920-2004) was an American Quaker activist and trainer for nonviolent direct action in the civil rights and peace movements; he helped globalize peace efforts on the issues of war and nuclear and biological weapons, and was the originator and leader of several marches, vigils, protest demonstrations and campaigns in different parts of the world. Walker was born in Gap, Pennsylvania in 1920. He was imprisoned as a conscientious objector in World War II. He served on the field staff of the Fellowship of Reconciliation from 1948 to 1960. In 1949, as Middle Atlantic Regional Secretary for the Fellowship of Reconciliation in Philadelphia, Walker originated, facilitated and attended the meeting in which his boss, A. J. Muste, introduced Martin Luther King, Jr. to Gandhian nonviolence. A pamphlet on which Walker collaborated, A Perspective on Nonviolence (1957), was praised by Dr. King, and used in the South by civil rights organizations and trainers. Walker worked for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) in Philadelphia from 1960 until November 1969. In the 1960s Walker helped recruit and train participants for sit-ins, Freedom Rides, the 1963 March on Washington, and the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer Project. Additionally, he wrote the first handbook of its type, Organizing for Nonviolent Direct Action (1961). Walker served as College Program Director for the Middle Atlantic Region of the AFSC and was Director of Field Studies for the Nonviolent Action Research Project at Haverford College in the 1970s. He organized protests against the testing and development of biological agents for use in warfare at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases located at Fort Detrick, Maryland in 1959, 1961, 1971-1973. Walker was active in A Quaker Action Group, the Friends Peace Committee of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, and The Peacemakers and was a co-founder of the World Peace Brigade and Peace Brigades International. In 1991 Walker received the Jamnalal Bajaj International Award for promoting the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi outside of India. He was the author of several books, including A World Peace Guard: Unarmed Agency for Peacekeeping (1981); he edited Quakers and the Draft (1968). Charles C. Walker died in Pennsylvania in 2004.