Judy Walton has dedicated her life to serving people in and out of her community while educating and enhancing their lives in the process. The Ward 7 resident, renowned educator and service provider has spent decades teaching, volunteering, being a healthcare advocate and motivating both the uninformed and the ill-informed.
Walton’s story starts in Northeast Washington in the 1940’s. She is a third generation Washingtonian and the oldest of Susie and Frazer Walton’s four children. The family, which included three daughters and one son, lived in the Kingman Park neighborhood near the District of Columbia Stadium before it was renamed RFK Memorial Stadium in 1960 in honor of Robert Kennedy who was a U.S. Attorney General and a New York senator, and John F. Kennedy’s brother.
“D.C. was really segregated back then. It is even more segregated now, [not physically] but in terms of economics. You couldn’t go to certain theaters, stores or restaurants,” Walton recalls. “I had a black doctor, dentist, butcher…everything. The theaters and stores we visited were black-owned.”
Walton remembers the stadium being used as the community’s playground and Kingman Park being a safe and enjoyable area. Her brother, Frazer Walton, Jr., an attorney and member of the civic association, played an integral role in ensuring that Kingman Park was the first dedicated and officially recognized black historic district in the city. The historic district includes the chronicled Langston Golf Course, which was the second racially desegregated golf course in DC.
Education A Priority
The now retired educator has amassed a wealth of education, including a doctorate degree (as well as a master’s) from Howard University with a concentration in organizational communication that focuses on women’s issues, training and development. As a product of the DC Public School (DCPS) system, Walton attended and graduated from Charles Young Elementary, Ronald H. Browne Junior High School (now known as Browne Education Campus) and Eastern Senior High School.
After her high school graduation, Walton enrolled at Howard University where she completed her freshman and sophomore years. It was on that campus that Walton met activists, newsmakers and political shakers like future DC Mayor Marion Barry and Kwame Ture, then known as Stokely Carmichael.
However, despite an abundance of energy and advocacy, or maybe because of it, the self-described “free-spirit” decided to take some time off from school, what would nowadays that would be called a “gap year” or two.
“I consider myself a late bloomer. I wanted to check the world out. My father was pretty cool with my decision, but my mother wanted me to stay in school,” said Walton. She went on to start working full-time with no timetable of when she would ever return to school. It was only at the behest of a friend that she agreed to keep a scheduled interview with the registrar at Federal City College (now the University of the District of Columbia).
That meeting changed her life and Walton immersed herself in undergraduate courses by attending school at night while maintaining a full-time work schedule during the day. It was a fantastic experience for Walton, if not always an easy and well-rested one. She was able to earn a double undergraduate degree in 1973 in the fields of English and education.
American soul and jazz poet Gil Scott-Heron, primarily known for his work as a spoken word performer, was “one of my English teachers at Federal College,” Walton said proudly.
Lifetime of Service
Dr. Walton has been instructing, motivating, counseling and mentoring “since childhood when I played teacher with my siblings.” She has also performed as a service provider since her early twenties. Walton has volunteered at the Southeast White House and the DC Dream Center for the past 11 years. Both entities are only minutes away from Walton’s home on 28th Street in the Hillcrest/Twining neighborhood. Before that Walton resided near Pennsylvania Avenue in Southeast around Randle Highland. She has lived in Ward 7 since 1970.
The trainer, consultant, presenter and speaker continues to be a peer reviewer for the Journal of Negro Education. It is a quarterly academic journal published by Howard University and established in 1932 by Charles Henry Thompson, the editor-in-chief for more than 30 years.
She served as chair and board member of Unity Health Care until 2016. Dr. Walton is presently a member of the Howard University Hospital Patient Advisory Board and a former member of the Health Committee within the Zion Baptist Church, were she is also a member.
“I met Judy while going to Howard University Law School and driving a cab around ’75 or ‘76,” said Lynn Johnson. Johnson, who is also retired, started his general practice in 1980 where he mainly dealt with probate and landlord-tenant issues. He has known Walton for decades and considers her a close associate.
“She absolutely loves Ward 7, Pennsylvania Avenue and the entire far Southeast,” Johnson said. “I could always tell that was where her heart was. She never lost sight of her goals.”
University Professor and Government Trainer
After earning her master’s degree, Walton started teaching at DCPS before acquiring her doctorate. In addition, she was a college professor at Howard University’s School of Business. Dr. Walton also taught at George Washington University, Prince George’s Community College, Northern Virginia Community College and the now defunct Southeastern University for about five years. She was also a former director of an English as a Second Language Program.
“Southeastern U. was a sort of international school. There were a lot of students from the Middle East, Thailand and Africa. Many of the professors had worked in the Peace Corps or the foreign service before coming there. You felt like you were in the U.N. with all the flags hanging in the lobby,” Walton said.
The veteran educator is currently employed with the Graduate School USA as a government trainer where she trains individuals on how to resolve communication, management and leadership issues. This position requires Walton to travel throughout the country at various government agencies, military bases and even internationally. The classes have been converted to online instruction due to the ongoing pandemic.
As a notary public (commissioned from 2019 to 2024), she specifically works with clients East of the River. Walton intends to work on becoming a regular blogger. Her blog, initiated in 2019, is entitled: Good News-What’s Happening.
Additionally, Walton intends to devote some time to her hobbies that include gardening, photography, sewing, cooking, reading and traveling whenever it is completely safe to do so again after COVID-19 is history.
“The Bible talks about your gifts,” Walton said. “I believe my gifts are education and service.”
“I also believe in my mantra which I got from the book, Das Energi, written in 1980 by Paul Williams,” she added. “In it, [Walton] says ‘Stamp out hesitation before it develops into fear.”
“You know what has to be done, so do it’.”