Ralph R. Walker was born Chicago, Illinois, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Loyola University. It was there he learned the role the media plays in the community and came to believe that the media always has the last word. The 1978-79 blizzard led Ralph and his family to migrate to Pasadena, California where he eventually hosted a local TV show called “The Book Beat” that aired on Channel 56, a public access station. His most renowned guests were Muhammed Ali and Rosa Parks. At a book signing at Pasadena’s Vroman’s Book Store he had met Ali
and asked him to come to an event at the Independent People’s Black & Latino Bookstore. When Rosa Parks appeared at the KPCC radio station show hosted by Larry Mantle, Ralph got permission to be on site and persuaded her to come to the bookstore as well. When Ralph married his wife, Judy and they had daughters, Rasheeda, Miriam and Rachel, Ralph felt it even more important to be conscious of the surrounding neighborhood. He was aware that nearby Pasadena was starting to become too much like Chicago - not as caring or safe as it had been. So the Walker family moved to Monrovia in 1988 and lived on Lemon Avenue in Monrovia near Wildrose Elementary School and Clifton Middle School. Ralph ventured into TV production and broadcasting, and used the medium to get both sides of the stories about racial issues that he felt needed to be told. He learned more about how the City worked by attending Monrovia’s first Leadership Academy. Ralph applied for a new job as a buyer for MUSD - for which his earlier 15 years experience working in a company that purchased high security items for the military had prepared him, but he was not hired. He felt his race had impacted the hiring decision and the incident was mentioned in a series of local newspaper articles: 1996 Pasadena Star News-Public Access •July 2, 1998 “Is Society Failing Its Young People?” As Ralph became more of an activist, he helped coordinate memorable events focused on human relations and reported on them. Ralph’s opinion of Monrovia’s human relations social barometer became more visible at the Martin Luther King Day Celebration in events at Recreation Park at the Boys and Girls Club. Dignitaries attending included Mayor Bob Bartlett, local clergy, e.g., Dr. William Dillard and South African President Nelson Mandela’s niece. A tree was planted to commemorate the importance of the event, although it was later removed. Ralph was one of the first leaders to meet the Tzu Chi Buddhist Compassionate Relief Organization and welcome them to town. The group organized in Monrovia on October 19, 1991. Ralph felt their coming to Monrovia was met with resistance. He was impressed when they stepped forward to help the family of Maurice Johnson, an African-American man who died on Thanksgiving Day. Emelbra LeBlanc, a Monrovian, called Ralph to ask for help. Ralph contacted the Tzu Chi, and they funded the Johnson funeral expenses. Ralph remains active with the local cable television station, KGEM, serving as a local talk show host/interviewer, and roving reporter covering local events and interviewing people on air, including Monrovia’s first (and so far, only) African-American Mayor, Bob Bartlett, who hosted Bill Clinton on his visit to Monrovia in 1996. One story that Ralph has felt important to tell was the Mark Edward Allen story, the mysterious dying of a young Black teen incarcerated in the Monrovia jail. In his view, it was Mark’s death on Nov. 17, 1971 that sparked the eruption or unrest in Monrovia that eventually brought change to the education, police and social systems in this community. Ralph has certainly contributed to freedom of expression in Monrovia. Ralph now feels honored and accepted, a feeling that started with how Monrovia celebrated the life of Buffalo Soldier Lt. Colonel Allen Allensworth at Monrovia’s Historical Museum, which Ralph was part of the planning. For his work, Ralph has been honored with various accolades: 1999 Community of the Foothills Producer of the Year 2000 Members Choice Award from the viewers 2001 Members Choice Award from the viewers 2001 W.A.V.E. - Western Access Video Excellence, Meet the Mayor, Lara Laramendi Blakely 2009 Monrovia City Council Award for 15 Years of Service to the community through KGEM. One of the things that Ralph feels is important is for minorities, particularly African Americans, to pass on their cultural history to the younger generation and to other cultures to enrich the lives of future Monrovians.