Author, activist, educator, and women’s advocate could describe Mildred Pitts Walter, recipient of the 1987 Coretta Scott King Award for Literature. Her award-winning book “Justin and the Best Biscuits in the World” is just one of over a dozen children’s books she has written, including “The Girl on the Outside” and “Have a Happy,” a book about a boy whose December 25, birthday often gets forgotten during in the holiday rush.
An avid supporter of civil rights, Walter has served as a member of the Congress of Racial Equality, and worked with the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to initiate legislation in Los Angeles. At the time of her Coretta Scott King Award, Walter was walking for peace from Leningrad to Moscow along with two hundred American and two hundred Soviets. Read more on the African-American Smithsonian website:
Born in Louisiana, Walter received her B.A. in English from Southern University in Baton Rouge. After moving to California during the 1960s, Walter worked as a kindergarten and elementary school teacher near Watts. Working with black schoolchildren, she saw a need for books that would appeal to young black readers; books which included strong, interesting black characters. If such books were going to exist, it became clear she would have to write them. Her first book, “Lily of Watts-A Birthday Discovery” was published in 1969, followed by her second book, “Lily Takes a Giant Step.”
Walter, along with Shirley Sims and Hazel Whitsett, founded the Northeast Women’s Center located on East 38th Ave. in Denver. The Center trains and places women in jobs, offers career counseling, and serves as a resource to women who wish to improve their economic, social, and political awareness. While making her home in Denver, Walter continues to pursue her career as author of children’s books. She loves to travel and has visited such places as Haiti, China, the Soviet Union, and Africa.