John Walker, Arkansas Civil Rights Legend, Fought For Women Too

John Walker

John Walker passed away on Monday.

Walker, an often controversial and polarizing lawyer, was best known for fighting for the civil rights of minorities. He launched his career in the mid 1960s as a partner in the state’s first integrated law firm out of my hometown of Little Rock.

As the Arkansas Times’ Max Brantley notes, among his any high-profile sports-centric cases, Walker was involved in:

  •  Unsuccessfully tried to have three black players reinstated after they were removed from the Razorback football team before the 1978 Orange Bowl by coach Lou Holtz. 
  • A lawsuit for Lee Hardman, passed over as football coach at Dollarway High School. Hardman got the job and went on to win four state championships.
  • Suing the UA and Athletic Director Frank Broyles on behalf of basketball coach Nolan Richardson, who contended his firing was racially motivated. The suit was dismissed by a federal judge.

A less remembered part of John Walker’s legacy was his advocacy for women and girls in Arkansas high school sports. See the below Arkansas Gazette article from 1971:

Make sure to read all of Brantley’s outstanding obituary here:


I spoke with John Walker on the morning of Nolan Richardson’s induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Walker traveled to Springfield, Mass. to support his longtime friend and former client.

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