Lester Walton was a journalist, entertainment professional, and diplomat who promoted civil rights at home and abroad. Born Lester Aglar Walton on April 20, 1882 in St. Louis, Missouri, his early life was spent as a journalist. At the age of 20 in 1902, when he was hired by the St. Louis Star to be its golf writer and later its court reporter, he became the first black reporter to write for a white daily paper in St. Louis.
In 1906 Walton moved to New York City, New York and in 1908 he became theatrical editor for the New York Age, which was the largest black newspaper in the nation at the time. He remained at the Age until 1914. In 1912 he married Gladys Moore, the daughter of Fred Moore, publisher of the newspaper. The couple had two daughters.
During this period he also wrote for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, the largest newspaper in the city, and from 1922 to 1931 he was a reporter with the New York World. He then worked briefly with the New York Herald Tribune, quitting in 1933 when the paper refused to give him a byline. Walton then returned to the New York Age. During his years with these newspapers, Walton started the movement which was eventually supported by the New York Times and the Associated Press, to have the spelling of the word “Negro” written with a capital “N.”
Walton was also actively involved in entertainment throughout his adult life. Between 1917 and 1919 he managed New York City’s Lafayette Theater. He later served as vice president of the Negro Actors Guild of America, and in the 1950s became chair of the Coordinating Council of Negro Performers, lobbying corporate and broadcast leaders to include more black actors in theatrical and broadcast performances. Walton was a songwriter, director, and founder of Walton Publishing Company, which published instrumental music.
Walton’s journalistic endeavors encouraged his interest in world affairs. He traveled as a correspondent to the Versailles Peace Conference outside Paris, France in 1919 and visited Liberia in 1933 to write articles