As the main character in third most watched show in US cable history, most people will know Breaking Bad’s Walter White. But instead of finding out on who this tv series is based, it might be interesting to note that there was once another man called Walter White. And he deserves all the attention a man can get.
In 1893, Walther White was born in Atlanta, Georgia. At the age of 13, he witnessed the race riots and almost saw his house being destroyed. He not only survived, but he was also able to escape the further discrimination, prejudice and violence that was such a important part of the daily live of African Americans in that period. The reason for this seems basal, but even though both his parents were born as slaves, he himself was light-complexioned, with blond hair and blue eyes.
“I am not white. There is nothing within my mind and heart which tempts me to think I am.” —Walter White
Years later, Walter White started is political career for the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and in 1918 he was asked to join the national delegation. Starting out as an investigator of the frequent lynching practices, White made use of its Southern accent and skin colour to gain the trust of the suspects. By doing so, he risked his live and in 1919 his identity was discovered and he needed fled out of town.
Some years later, White became the executive secretary of the NAACP. One NAACP’s goals was to institute an anti-lynching law, but this failed due to the opposing Southern Senators. Consequently, White lost its trust in the senate for his pursuit for African American civil right and protections and needed to find another target for his campaigns. He found this in the form the Supreme Court and subsequently lobbied succesfully against the nomination of Judge John J. Parker, whom they believed to be a supporter of the disenfranchisement of African Americans.
Thirty years later, Walter White died in New York from a hart attack. While his story might be less known than that of a fictional chemistry-teacher-turned-meth-dealer, it is still worth telling. Who knows, maybe they will one day make a film about the white boy named White, who denied that he was white and fought for racial equality.