On September 28, 1785, David Walker was born to a father who was enslaved and a mother who was free. Due to the law, since Walker’s mother was free, David himself was also free.
However, that did not mean he lived a life in which he did not see the effects of slavery.
“He witnessed much misery in his youth, including one disturbing episode of a son who was forced to whip his mother until she died.”
David Walker lived in Boston, Massachusetts, where he faced rampant amount of discrimination.
Walker surrounded himself with other Black activists and began denouncing slavery. In September 1829, Walker published Appeal, which was a radical anti-slavery text which called for enslaved Africans to revolt against their masters.
“they want us for their slaves, and think nothing of murdering us. . . therefore, if there is an attempt made by us, kill or be killed. . . and believe this, that it is no more harm for you to kill a man who is trying to kill you, than it is for you to take a drink of water when thirsty.”
-Excerpt from The Appeal
Walker was able to smuggle his texts in order to reach his primary audience, which were enslaved Africans in the South.
“He sewed copies of his pamphlet into the lining of sailors’ clothing. Once the pamphlets reached the South, they could be distributed throughout the region. Walker also sought the aid of of various contacts in the South who were also sympathetic to the cause.”
The words of the Appeal instilled pride and hope to enslaved Africans in the South. Meanwhile, slave masters initiated laws that forbade Black folks to read. Walker’s texts were so powerful that bounties were placed on his head for his capture. Two months after Walker published the third edition of the Appeal, he was found dead – and many believed that he had been poisoned.
PushBlack salutes Walker’s revolutionary spirit and courage.