From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Walker, Solly

(born: April 9, 1932  -  died: April 28, 2017) 

Solly Walker was a sophomore guard who played for St. John's University, when, on December 17, 1951, he became the first African American to play in an integrated college basketball game at the University of Kentucky. The University of Kentucky (UK) defeated St. John's. Walker began the game by hitting six of his first seven shots and had only played a few minutes when he received a blow that put him on the sidelines for several weeks. In a subsequent tournament game, St. John's defeated UK in the NCAA East Regional in Raleigh, NC. St. John's continued to win until they were defeated in the final game by the University of Kansas Jayhawks. Solly Walker was the first African American to play basketball at St. John's University, and upon graduation was drafted by the New York Knicks. Walker declined the NBA offer and became one of the first African American high school principals in New York. Solly Walker was born in South Carolina and his parents, Otis and Eva Walker moved the family to Brooklyn, NY [source: 1940 U.S. Census]. 

For more see Raw Recruits, by A. Wolff. A picture of Walker playing in the December game against Kentucky is on p.111 of the 1952 Kentuckian Yearbook [available online]. Solly Walker died April 28, 2017, see Solly Walker, basketball pioneer, dies at 85, online at

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NKAA Source: Raw recruits
NKAA Source: The Kentuckian : official year book of the University of Kentucky

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“Walker, Solly,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 20, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-05-31 20:14:27