Mary Walker Foundations' Birthday Book Bash Will Be May 6 At Harris-Johnson Park

  • Friday, March 17, 2023

The Mary Walker Historical and Educational Foundation celebrates the life and legacy of Chattanooga literacy advocate Mary Walker with its first annual Mary Walker’s Birthday Book Bash on Saturday, May 6, at Harris-Johnson Park, 41 W. 28th St. across from the Mary Walker Towers.

This family-friendly fundraising event features:

8 a.m. - 3K Fun Run/Walk for Literacy
11 a.m. - Birthday Celebration Program / Book Debut
Noon - Story Time - Storytelling for Children
1 p.m. - Team Horseshoe Throwing Tournament
2:30 p.m. -Team Cornhole Tournament
All Day! - Inflatable Bounce Playground

Register here:

Refreshments will be provided by local food trucks on site. Attendees will also enjoy birthday cake.

Interested sponsors, volunteers and vendors are welcome to contact to participate.

This event also marks the debut of the book The Amazing Mary Walker: America’s Oldest Student by Elizabeth Shreve. Softcover copies will be available for sale on site or can be ordered by visiting the Mary Walker Foundation website.

Mary Walker was born in 1848 in Union Springs, Al., and was enslaved until she was 15 years old when President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Ms. Walker and her family moved to Chattanooga in 1917. She eventually enrolled in the Chattanooga Area Literacy Movement in 1963 and learned to read, write, add and subtract by the age of 117. Ms. Walker received a number of medals and accolades for her endurance and determination, including:

Receiving Key to the City of Chattanooga
Designated Chattanooga’s Ambassador of Goodwill (twice)
Recognition from two U.S. presidents
Certified as the Nation’s Oldest Student by the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare
After Mary Walker’s death in 1969 at the age of 121, the Poss Homes High Rise Apartments on Market Street in Chattanooga where she resided was named in her honor.

All event proceeds and book sales benefit the Mary Walker Historical and Education Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with a mission to promote economic literacy and stability for all through reading, writing and education.

“We at the Mary Walker Foundation would like to welcome the entire city to come out and enjoy a day of fun for a worthy cause,” says Adrian Edwards, executive director of the Mary Walker Foundation. “Our mission to address poverty through literacy and education is so crucial and
important to the socioeconomic health of our community.” 

Edwards says the organization thanks its sponsors and donors who have helped the nonprofit create much impact in the Chattanooga community and beyond.

“Not only does literacy enhance one's ability to experience the world in a more rewarding capacity, it is essential to creating and maintaining a sustainable community.”

For more information, visit or email

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