Prison Radio
Marvin “Shaka” Walker

When I first met him, he and Doug (Young) were thinking about representing me in my appeal. I am so glad they believed they could help me. Me, personally, I had hoped they were the key that would open these prison doors. Through many setbacks along the way, they never quit on me. It was not David’s style: quitting.

Well, he gave me his home number and said to call anytime, so I did. At the time, I didn’t know it was the beginning of a great friendship. Now it didn’t take long for me to realize how smart my new lawyer was. Over the years, we talked about almost everything, and I knew very little compared to David.

He would send me books. After I read them. We would talk about that book. African studies mainly, at first. Then as I learned more, anger and hatred tried to take hold, but David helped me to funnel these emotions in the right way. Even when prison BS came up, we talked, and his advice guided me down the right path, many times. I am the man I am today because he pushed me toward knowledge.

David visited me and another prisoner long after he retired. One day, while waiting out in the visiting booth, I was looking out the window at the San Rafael Bridge, the Bay – not a bad view for prisoners.  I saw movement to my left. It was David, leaning up against an SUV. The walk up from the gates is lonely and hard on some people. I didn’t mention that while we talked because David could be stubborn, with a spoonful of pride.

When he called – when I called him again, he said he would no longer be able to visit. The walk up was too much. I let him know how much I appreciated his visits, that I knew if he could, he would run up from the front gate. My only regret was that that last day, we couldn’t take a picture together. As, I began to call more, to check on him. Living alone, he had trouble with those stairs. I worried about him. My brother wasn’t getting any younger.

Toward the end, he was in the hospital for a minute. Now the fact that he hadn’t checked himself out and told me this was serious. David hated hospitals. I called him for over a week: no answer. I felt/knew this wasn’t like him, so I asked a friend to check the obituaries.

She gave me the sad news when I called her. I don’t remember what day that was I found out brother David was no longer with us, but do know the day he passed, March 26 – coincidentally, my god baby’s birthday. I am so glad I told David I loved him. I called his number every day before I called anybody else after he had passed, knowing he would never answer but wanting him to answer one last time. His presence in my world was heaven-sent. I was blessed to have a friend like David.

Since we lost David, the court overturned my conviction and I have great hopes I’ll be free after nearly 43 years locked in. I believe this would please him, Marvin Shaka Walker, Jr.  walking free. Every day hereafter I will do my best to help someone else, each day. On his birthday, 9/15, I’m planning to volunteer at a Jewish restaurant in David’s honor, and maybe I will get to taste the soup he often spoke of.

David was a small stature of a man, but he was a giant in the realm of humanity, paying it forward, because he always did: as a brother, friend, teacher, writer, advisor, uncle – oh yeah, a lawyer, a damn good one at that. From now on, every time one of these comes to mind, we will have to think of David. But for me personally, I need no reason to remind myself. The void is permanent.

In struggle, Marvin “Shaka” Pete Walker, Jr.