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Georgia Political Papers and Oral History Program

The Georgia Political Papers and Oral History Program is comprised of over 3,000 linear feet of archival collections, along with an extensive number of oral history interviews, that document the unique political culture of the state of Georgia.

Charles Walker

Charles Walker (1947-) was a Democratic state representative for the 85th District for four terms, and then elected state senator from the 22nd District. He was the first African American elected majority leader. The Walker Group was a successful business in construction and newspapers. However, in 2004, Walker faced 142 felony counts including tax evasion, and is currently serving a federal prison term.; Interviewed by Dr. Mel Steely on January 28, 1997 at Walker's office.; Walker begins by speaking of his family history and his father's work as a sharecropper in rural Burke County, Georgia and the racial tension that arose while there. They eventually moved to Augusta, GA. After graduating from high school in Augusta, Walker joined the Navy.After his service, he completed his higher education at Augusta State University and worked for a time for the United States Postal Service. Afraid that there was not enough upward mobility, he resigned from his job there subsequent to being offered a promotion. Walker pursued several independent business enterprises, eventually establishing The Walker Group. During his time working for the Human Relations Committee in Augusta, he was persuaded to pursue politics because of the racial injustices that he came up against. Two years later, after being elected to the Georgia General Assembly, he successfully razed the Augusta-Richmond County Commission in response to the earlier injustices. He speaks of his first year in politics, the expectations as well as the disappointments, especially in realizing the seniority system that was inherent in the General Assembly. He spends time speaking of those he served alongside, such as Tom Murphy and Governor Joe Frank Harris, and discusses qualities of leadership as related to his time as Majority Leader. Walker expresses his opinions on the role of African Americans in politics and the Democratic Party. He then talks about his decision to transition from the General Assembly to the Senate, how race played a part, and his subsequent campaign. The discussion moves to Civil Rights, Welfare, and Affirmative Action. He ends by assessing Zell Miller, Pierre Howard, the future of the Democratic Party, and talking about the role of the Majority Leader.