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Alice Walker (pictured), a legendary American writer, was the eighth-born child of sharecroppers Willie Lee and Minnie Lou Grant Walker.
Walker was born on February 9, 1944, in Eatonton, Georgia. She became the valedictorian of her segregated high school class. She an accident at age eight that impaired the vision in her left eye. Before transferring to Sarah Lawrence College where she received a B.A., Walker attended Atlanta’s Spelman College for two years.
At Spellman, Walker became a political activist and met Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She participated in the 1963 March on Washington.
Walker continued working in the civil rights movement while teaching at various universities. During this time, she also became a major voice in the emerging feminist movement. This arena was run by mostly white middle-class women. Aware of the issues of race in that movement, Walker later created a specific black woman-centered feminist theory.
She called her feminist faction “womanism.” Walker’s movement identified and assessed the oppression based on racism and classism, which African American women often experience. Walker’s collected work includes poetry, novels, short fiction, essays, critical essays, and children’s stories.
Walker’s collective body of work includes poetry, novels, short fiction, essays, critical essays, and children’s stories (Samuels, 2008).
Her collections of poems include: Once (1968), Revolutionary Petunias And Other Poems (1973), Horses Make A Landscape Look More Beautiful (1984), and Absolute Truth in the Goodness of the Earth: New Poems (2003).
The novels Walker released include the following: The Third Life of Grange Copeland (1970), Meridian (1975), The Color Purple (1982), The Temple of My Familiar (1989), Possessing the Secret of Joy (1992), By the Light of My Father’s Smile (1998), and Now Is The Time to Open Your Heart (2005).
Her major non-fiction works include Living by the Word, I Love Myself When I am Laughing…And Then Again When I am Looking Mean And Impressive: A Zora Neale Hurston Reader (1979), In Search of Our Mother’s Garden: Womanist Prose (1983) and Warrior Marks: Female Genital Mutilation and the Sexual Blinding of Women (1993).
One of Walker’s most recent works of literature is We Are The Ones We Have Been Waiting For (2007).
She won a Rosenthal Foundation Award and an American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters award for In Love and Trouble. Walker won the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize for fiction for The Color Purple. This book was made into a Stephen Spielberg-directed movie and an Oprah Winfrey-produced Broadway musical (Samuels, 2008).
Presently, the critically-acclaimed literary icon lives in Northern California.
References: Samuels, W. (2008, February 25) Alice M. Walker (1944- ). Retrieved from https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/walker-alice-m-1944/
Research sources: Alice Walker, In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983); Henry L. Gates and Anthony Appiah, eds., Alice Walker: Critical Perspectives Past and Present (New York: Amistad, 1993); Lovalerie King, “Alice Walker” in Encyclopedia of African American Literature, Ed. Wilfred D. Samuels (New York: Facts on File, 2007).