Botwc Firsts

Major General William J. Walker Makes History As First Black Person To Lead House of Representatives Security

Major General William J. Walker Makes History As First Black Person To Lead House of Representatives Security

Now both chambers of Congress are run by military leaders!

Major General William J. Walker is making history as the first Black person to lead the House of Representatives security, The New York Times reports.

Walker is a veteran with more than three decades of service under his belt as a National Guardsman and Drug Enforcement Administration agent. More recently, he has been in charge of leading the Army and Air Force components of the District of Columbia National Guard. He ensures adequate response to national emergencies and deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, Poland, and Saudi Arabia. As guard commander, he was responsible for overseeing the 113th Wing, providing sky security for D.C. and the C-40 Clipper, an aircraft used for transporting members of Congress and dignitaries. Now, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has appointed Maj. Gen. Walker Sergeant-at-Arms of the U.S. House of Representatives, making him the first Black person to lead the House security in more than 230 years.

"General William Walker has proven to be a leader of great integrity and experience who will bring his steady and patriotic leadership to this vital role. His historic appointment as the first Black American to serve as sergeant-at-arms is an important step forward for this institution and our nation. [He will] be an important asset to the House, particularly in light of the Jan. 6 insurrection," Speaker Pelosi said in a statement.

Walker spoke out against security tactics used during the Capitol attack, speaking to "unusual restrictions" placed on the National Guard. In his testimony before a Senate committee this month, he revealed that he was not given authority to mobilize troops until more than three hours after he requested it, with officials citing the "optics" of deploying troops. Walker added that he was ready to send 150 troops to the Capitol hours before the violence began.

"That number could have made a difference. Seconds mattered. Minutes mattered," Walker said. 

Walker joins Lt. Gen. Karen Gibson, who recently became head of Senate security, putting both chambers of Congress in military leaders' hands. The two sergeants-at-arms, along with the Capitol architect, make up the Capitol Police Board, overseeing 2,300 police officers and their acting chief. 

Rep. Kevin McCarthy spoke about Walker's appointment, saying, "Every member, staffer, employee and visitor to the Capitol should feel safe with Maj. Gen. Walker at the helm of sergeant-at-arms operations."

Congratulations, General Walker!

Photo Courtesy of District Of Columbia National Guard