MXO BLACK HISTORY MOMENT: W. O. Walker Editor In Chief Of Cleveland’s Oldest African American Newspaper-The Call & Post!

Case Western Reserve University, Posted February 8th 2021

W. O. Walker black Republican publisher, was born in Selma, Ala., son of Alex and Annie Lee (Jones) Walker. He worked for the Pittsburgh Urban League after studying at Wilberforce University and Oberlin Business College, and entered journalism first reporting for the Pittsburgh Courier, then as city editor of the Norfolk Journal & Guide, cofounding the Washington (D.C.) Tribune in 1921. Walker came to Cleveland in 1932 to manage the CALL & POST, within a few years acquiring majority ownership. Walker helped found the FUTURE OUTLOOK LEAGUE, but, a loyal Republican, was conservative in politics. He was councilman from 1940-47; and as Ohio’s director of industrial relations from 1963-71, was the first black to hold a cabinet-level position in state government. In his Call & Post column, Walker criticized relief expenditures, calling instead for policies creating more private sector jobs.

The Call and Post was established around 1928 by a group of people including local African-American inventor Garrett A. Morgan, as a merger between the Cleveland Call and the Cleveland Post, two newspapers that had been serving the African-American community since 1916 and 1920 respectively.[1][2] William Otis “W.O.” Walker, a black Republican who had been co-founder of the Washington Tribune, became editor in 1932.[3]

The Call and Post provided extensive coverage of the social and religious life in the African-American community, and was known to feature sensational coverage of violence on its front page. The publication also extensively covered Larry Doby, the first black player to successfully integrate into the American League‘s Cleveland Indians baseball franchise. Reporter Cleveland Jackson communicated extensively with Indians owner and team president Bill Veeck before Doby was signed by the Indians in 1947.[4]

With the influence of editor and publisher William O. Walker from 1932 until his death in 1981, the Call and Post established itself as the most influential voice for African-Americans in Cleveland and ultimately all Ohio. It earned praise as one of the finest African-American newspapers in the country.[5] As early as 1934, the Call and Post was active in calling for public involvement in the Scottsboro case.[6] In 1952, a former Call and Post reporter, Simeon Booker, became the first African-American reporter at The Washington Post.[7]

After moving to new offices in 1959, the Call and Post began to publish with offset printing. It was one of the first newspapers in Ohio to use the new technique.[2]

Another example of advocacy took place in 1982, with a scathing editorial in support of Cleveland real estate developer Winston E. Willis, whose properties, located near University Circle, had been targeted by the Cleveland Clinic, Case Western Reserve University, and University Hospitals for expansion.[8][9]

Despite his conservatism, Walker took radical stands when he thought blacks would benefit. He supported Democrat Carl Stokes for mayor in 1967, and when several black councilmen were accused of taking kickbacks, he organized a fund for their defense. In the 1960s, he boycotted McDonald’s Restaurant, forcing it to grant franchises to blacks. He helped organize black self-help groups such as Operation Alert and the Surrogates.

Walker married Theresa Brooks on 2 July 1919; they divorced in 1955. Walker was survived by his second wife, Naomi (Russell). He had no children from either marriage. Walker died of a heart attack in the Call & Post Bldg. and was buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY. He was elected posthumously to the Gallery of Distinguished Newspaper Publishers at Howard University.

Smiley face Smiley face Smiley face Smiley face Smiley face