Dr. Margaret Walker (Alexander), professor emerita at Jackson State University, was inducted into the 2020 Hall of Fame class at the Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience (MAX) Museum in downtown Meridian on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020. The Director of the Margaret Walker Center at JSU, Dr. Robert Luckett, accepted the award in her honor.
Walker joined the following list of impressive honorees:
- Bo Diddley, singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer
- Jerry Lee Lewis, singer, songwriter and pianist
- Tammy Wynette, singer and songwriter, and
- John Lee Hooker, blues singer, songwriter and guitarist
“It was a privilege to accept the award on her behalf and on behalf of the Center. It is a high honor for Margaret Walker to be inducted into the MAX Hall of Fame, and I hope people will take the time to visit the museum in Meridian,” said Luckett, who also serves as an associate professor of history.
For 30 years, Walker worked as a professor of English at JSU, where she founded the Institute for the Study of the History, Life and Culture of Black People, which now bears her name.
A noted author and poet, Walker’s collection of poetry “For My People,” was released in 1942. She also became the first Black woman to receive the Yale University Younger Poets Award. In 1966, her first novel, “Jubilee,” was published and contained 30 years of Alexander’s research. A neo-slave narrative, “Jubilee” began as Walker’s doctoral dissertation.
A presumably awe-inducing fact is that Walker was mentored by notable writers like Langston Hughes and W.E.B. Du Bois. In turn, she mentored writers such as James Baldwin, Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison, who would each make undeniable marks in the literary field.
Among her many accomplishments, the Margaret Walker Center is described as her “lasting achievement at JSU.” The Center houses the Margaret Walker Papers – one of the world’s largest collections of a “modern Black, female writer.” It also contains 40 significant manuscripts and an oral history repository with more than 2,000 interviews.
A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Walker spent most of her life in Jackson, Mississippi, with her husband, Firnist. They had four children.