Mary Walker Learned to read at the age of 116 making her the oldest student

Born Into Slavery, This Centenarian Learned to Read at 116, Becoming the Nation’s Oldest Student

Mary Walker was born into slavery and she endured the worst discrimination but that did not stop her from learning to read at the age of 116!

She was born in Union Springs, Alabama in 1848. By the age of 20, she was married and had her first child. She worked several jobs including cleaning, babysitting and even selling sandwiches just to make money and save it for her curch. in 1917 mary and her family moved to Chattanooga Tennessee by the age of 114 her children and husband died but that did not stop her she kept on living and wanted to learn.

in 1963 she went and enrolled in the Chattanooga literacy movement called CALM where she was taught by a teacher named Helen Kelly.

Mary attended a one hour class two nights a week for a whole year when she learned to read and write.

Here are a few things she has achieved below

  • The keys to the city of Chattanooga
  • She has also been certified as the nation’s oldest student by the U.S department of health.
  • Received recognition from two U.S Presidents 

After Mary passing in 1969, the city of Chattanooga went on to re-name her retirement home after her and even erected a memorial to commemorate her life.

Mary Walker has a story to tell and you can read more about her life.

Mary’s new children book titled THE OLDEST STUDENT: HOW MARY WALKER LEARNED TO READ written by Rita Lorraine and illustrated by Oge Mora is available in many platforms on the internet.

The Oldest Student
Courtesy of Random House Children’s Books

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