COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A trailblazing journalist and activist was honored by the City of Columbus as she prepares to observe her 100th birthday.
Ann B. Walker was honored with a resolution passed by Columbus City Council during its meeting on Monday.
Walker served as the first woman broadcaster to report on the Ohio legislature while working at NBC4. She later worked as the station’s and city’s first woman in broadcast management.
Walker’s career started at a young age and said her career with NBC4 started after she interviewed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“Dr. King came to Columbus and he said he only wanted to do an interview with a Black reporter and Columbus didn’t have any, so I was called,” Walker, who celebrates her birthday on Wednesday, said.
But Walker’s journey soon took her away from her hometown. In 1980, she was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to a role in the White House Public Affairs Office, which made her Franklin County’s first Black woman to receive a presidential appointment.
She started her career as a journalist for the Ohio Sentinel, working as an editor and author of the popular “Ann Walker’s Party Line” column. She later served several roles at Columbus’ WVKO-AM radio, including as an on-air host.
Along the way, Walker interviewed several important figures, including King, political activist Angela Davis, and then-Democratic presidential candidate Carter.
Walker said she was known as the person you could turn to for help.
“I was always in a position where I was helping to educate folks, but then, I got an education, too,” Walker said.
As NBC4’s community services director, Walker said she realized she was passionate about opening doors for others.
“I’m proud of the number of people I moved into the business,” she said. “I think that doors were opened for me and I think that I had an obligation to open doors for other people.”
Walker said she takes pride in the work she did that helped other women and people of color in the journalism field.
“So even though I sound glib when I talk about the glass ceiling, I’m serious,” she said. “If you have to crush it, if you have to shatter it, if you have to push it to help somebody get through, do it.”
In 2021, the city of Columbus dedicated a plaza to Walker in the King-Lincoln Bronzeville neighborhood. She is also featured on the Long Street Cultural Wall.