“Can our condition be any worse? – Can it be more mean and abject? If there are any changes, will they not be for the better, though they may appear for the worst at first? Can they get us any lower?”
– Preamble, David Walker’s Appeal, p. 4
David Walker (September 27, 1785–June 28, 1830) was an audaciously outspoken Black American activist who demanded the immediate end of slavery in the new nation. A leader within the Black enclave in Boston, Massachusetts, he published in 1829 David Walker’s Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World: a call to “awaken my brethren” to the power within Black unity and struggle. This was a time when free Black enclaves were expanding, simultaneous with an upsurge in rebellion against oppressive plantation and maritime slavery. Walker is still not widely recognized for his critical contribution to ending chattel slavery in the United States. Yet many historians and liberation theologians cite Walker’s Appeal as one of the most important political and social documents of the 19th century. They credit Walker for exerting a radicalizing influence on the abolitionist movements of his day and beyond. He has inspired many generations of Black leaders and activists of all backgrounds.