Cleveland Black History: Hazel Mountain Walker

An education pioneer

CLEVELAND - She had no children of her own and yet Hazel Mountain Walker impacted the lives of thousands of children in her lifetime.  Born in Warren, Ohio in 1889, Walker was the first black Cleveland school principal, receiving her bachelor's and master's degrees in education from Western Reserve University. For 27 years she taught at Mayflower Elementary School, known for teaching students whose families did not read or speak English.

In the summer months Walker studied law at Baldwin Wallace College where she received her degree and passed the bar in 1919. Practicing law was not a number one priority for Walker, but she wanted to prove that black women could become lawyers. She is the first black woman admitted to practice law in the state of Ohio.

In 1936, walker stepped into the position of principal at Rutherford B. Hayes Elementary School, then George Washington Carver Elementary School in 1954 where she served until she retired in 1958. Walker was elected to the Ohio State Board of Education in 1961 but resigned in 1963.

Walker also was a thespian and an early member of and actress at Karamu House. She's actually credited with choosing the name of the theater back in 1924. Walker had a passion for politics serving on the Cuyahoga County Republican Party executive committee in the 1930's. She was married to George Herbert Walker until his death in 1956 and in 1961 she got married again to Joseph R. Walker.

Hazel Mountain Walker died on May 16 in Cleveland.

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