Murray Atkins Walls (1899 - 1993) Murray Atkins Walls was a pioneering civil
rights leader who worked for five decades to help integrate Louisville’s Girl
Scouts, public libraries, department stores, hotels, restaurants and schools.
She served the Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana for over 20 years as a camp committee
member, council board member, council vice-president, volunteer trainer and as a
champion of civil rights. Originally from Indianapolis, Ind., Walls received a
bachelor’s degree from Butler University and a master’s degree from Columbia
University in New York. In 1935, she married John H. Walls, M.D., and moved to
Louisville. She joined the Girl Scouts in 1940 to serve on the Committee for
Negro Scouting where she worked to establish a camp for black Girl Scouts.
Louisville’s first African American Girl Scout troop was formed in 1940 in the
Beecher Terrace Housing Complex. Although troops were still strictly segregated
in Kentucky, the national organization recorded that its membership among black
girls had more than doubled. In 1945, Walls became the first African American
member of the Girl Scouts Council Board of Directors. In 1954, she led the
movement that resulted in a shared Camp Shantituck, with black girls and white
girls attending different sessions, the first time in Louisville history that
black Girl Scouts and white Girl Scouts used the same camp. Just two years
later, Walls led the board in a vote for the integration of Camp Shantituck, one
camp session for all girls. This bold movement is considered by some to be an
early victory in the civil rights movement in the United States. In 1962, Walls
received the Girl Scouts highest award, the Thanks Badge. To honor Walls as an
outstanding role model and courageous agent of change, the Commonwealth of
Kentucky erected a Historical Highway Maker in front of the Girl Scouts of
Kentuckian Lexington Road property in Louisville. Walls died September 16, 1993.
She was 93 years old.
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