LOUISVILLE- The Louisville civil rights leader who integrated Kentuckiana Girl Scouts was announced today as the 39th member of the Gallery of Great Black Kentuckians, the educational poster and bookmark series produced by the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights. The commission unveiled the poster of the late Murray Atkins Walls at a special ceremony hosted by the Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana Council in its Louisville headquarters.
“Murray Atkins Walls led the way in breaking huge racial barriers,” said Linda Strite Murnane, KCHR executive director. “Her accomplishments will benefit the people in Kentucky and throughout the nation for all time.” Born in 1899, in Indianapolis, Ind., Ms. Walls earned a master’s degree from New York’s Columbia University. As a teacher, she developed an early black history program in Indiana. In the 1930s, she worked to secure public housing for African Americans in Louisville. In the 1940s, she led demonstrations at the whites-only main library and helped hire black clerks in a department store.
The civil rights pioneer led the movement that integrated Girl Scout programs and camps by 1956. She was a Girl Scout trainer, the first black woman to serve on the Girl Scout Board of Directors, and the Ky. State Board of Education. Ms. Walls died in 1993.
The state human rights commission introduced the gallery poster and bookmark series in 1970, to recognize the achievements of African Americans neglected in traditional histories of the state and to introduce Kentucky African American history into classrooms. The series helps the commission in its task to raise awareness of human and civil rights in the commonwealth.
Educators and libraries use the colorful, biographical-style pieces as teaching tools. Free posters and bookmarks are available to the public.
KCHR is the state agency that enforces the Kentucky Civil Rights Act and Kentucky Fair Housing law, and executes the policies embodied in the Federal Civil Rights Act, Federal Fair Housing Act, Federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and Americans with Disabilities Act.
The agency receives, initiates, investigates, conciliates and rules upon jurisdictional complaints. KCHR has jurisdiction in housing, employment, public accommodations, financial transactions, and private clubs.
In Kentucky, discrimination is prohibited on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status in housing, disability, age (40 or over) in employment, and smoking status in employment. Complaints not dismissed, settled or conciliated go to administrative hearing where commission decisions have the authority of a court of law.