January 13, 2023

“If you see it, you can be it” says first black U.S. Sergeant-At-Arms William J. Walker

William J. Walker is the first ever African-American to be Sergeant-At-Arms of the U.S. House of Representatives
William J. Walker is the first ever African-American to be Sergeant-At-Arms of the U.S. House of Representatives

William J. Walker is the first ever African-American to be Sergeant-At-Arms of the U.S. House of Representatives, a position that has existed since 1789. A retired U.S. Army major general, Walker has had a long and accomplished career in the United States military.

Coming from humble beginnings, General Walker grew up on the southside of Chicago. He has lived an inspiring life. Not only is Walker in a position to make impactful decisions but his career is also an opportunity to empower others and demonstrate strong leadership.

As the first African-American to hold the position of U.S. Sergeant at Arms, Walker believes that his success will empower a new generation to pursue their dreams.

“I’m hoping young people- black, hispanic, other minorities- see that it can be done,” he told White House Correspondent Hariana Veras during an exclusive interview on March 31. “If you see it, you can be it… is my mantra,” he explained.

William J. Walker is the first ever African-American to be Sergeant-At-Arms of the U.S. House of Representatives

Hariana Veras interviewed General Walker as part of her new show, HARIANA which will air across the United States and several African nations, including Angola, Mozambique and Cape Verde.

General Walker’s life is a testament to the reality of this statement. He is incredibly well accomplished and educated, holding a bachelor’s degree and three master’s degrees from prestigious universities.

As the U.S. Sergeant at Arms, Walker is the chief law enforcement and protocol officer of the House of Representatives and is responsible for maintaining order in the House side of the United States Capitol complex. However, he is grounded in the belief that leadership is not just a title, but instead requires action.

General Walker approaches leadership with an emphasis on working cooperatively with people. When asked about his leadership style, he explained, “I’m approachable. I’m direct. And I’m not ambivalent… What I’m looking for in others I do my very best to show by example.”

William J. Walker, the first ever African-American to be Sergeant-At-Arms of the U.S. House of Representatives, being interviewed by Hariana Veras at the U.S. House of Representatives on March 31, 2022

In any position of power, an effective leader is not focused on their own ego but instead on how they can use the strengths of the people around them and push them to be better. It is important that leaders be people of integrity and that they live lives that are consistent with what they ask of others.

“Character by far is the number one thing that I look for and it’s the number one thing that I try to project,” said General Walker when asked what kinds of qualities effective leaders should possess.

General Walker had the opportunity to meet Angolan President João Lourenço when he last visited Washington DC. Walker describes this experience as powerful, electrifying, and something that will stay with him for a long time.

Angola’s president, João Lourenço (right) with General William Walker at the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC, U.S.A., in September 21, 2021.

Although General Walker was born and raised in the United States, he feels a very close connection to Africa and its people. He has visited the continent on numerous occasions, including trips to Ethiopia, South Africa, Burkina Faso, and Botswana.

“I believe we are the descendants of the ancient architects of civilization. I believe Africans can do anything. So I am proud to be an African-American. I am proud to have black DNA. And I feel this kinship with black people everywhere,” said General Walker.

William J. Walker, the first ever African-American to be Sergeant-At-Arms of the U.S. House of Representatives, being interviewed by Hariana Veras at the U.S. House of Representatives on March 31, 2022

U.S. Sergeant at Arms William J. Walker is a compelling and empowering leader. His story is not only powerful but also inspiring. It is proof that hard work pays off and dreams are worth pursuing regardless of anyone’s background, socioeconomic status, race, or ethnicity.


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