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Black History Month
Alice Malsenior Walker was born in
as the eighth and youngest child of two sharecroppers Willie Lee Walker and Minnie Tallulah Grant on February 9, 1944. She was a normal, active and fun-loving child until the age of eight, when (as described by Evelyn C. White in Alice Walker's biography, Alice Walker: A Life) her brother scarred and blinded her left eye by shooting her with a BB gun. Afterwards, she became very withdrawn and shy, misunderstood by her family members and shunned by her friends and classmates, especially after a doctor swindled her parents out of $250 to have the scars removed. After the scars were removed, however, most of the embarrassment went away and she became her class's prom queen and class valedictorian. For her college career, Walker left the city of Eatonton to attend
on a full-ride state scholarship, but later transferred to
Sarah Lawrence College
near New York and graduated in 1965. During the two years she spent at Spelman, Walker became active in the civil rights movement in part due to the influence of one of her professors, Howard Zinn who was an activist. While in New York, she was invited to the home of
Martin Luther King Jr.
in 1962 in recognition of her attendance at the Youth World Peace Festival in Finland. Two years after graduating from Sarah Lawrence, Alice Walker married Mel Leventhal, a Jewish civil rights lawyer. They were married on March 17, 1967 in New York City. Later that year, the couple moved to Jackson, Mississippi, becoming "the first legally married inter-racial couple in Mississippi." This brought them much harassment and even murderous threats from the Ku Klux Klan. The couple had a daughter, Rebecca, in 1969 but divorced, peacefully, in 1976.
Alice Walker is noted mainly for her writing ability in her poetry, essays, and novels she has written. While still a senior at Spelman, she began her writing career and continued it after graduating as an editor for the magazine
in the early 1970's. An article she wrote in 1975 was largely responsible the the renewal of interest in the author,
Zora Neal Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God
). Hurston was a big inspiration for Walker, along with Harlem Renaissance writer Jean Toomer, black Chicago poet Gwendolyn Brooks, South African novelist Bessie Head, and white Georgia writer Flannery O'Connor.
Walker's first novel,
The Third Life of Grange Copeland
, was published in 1970 and in 1976, her second novel,
, was published. In 1982, her best known work,
The Color Purple
, was published, which in 1985 was turned into a movie and in 2005, a Broadway Musical. Alice Walker has published a number of collections of short stories, poetry, and other published works. Her works typically focus on the struggles of blacks, particularly women, and their struggle against a racist, sexist, and violent society. Additionally, Walker has published several short stories, including the 1973
, in which she discusses feminism and racism against blacks.
Walker's most prominent and productive gift to this world is her brilliant mind, and how she channels the information of the world around her along with her own imagination to give the people of the world stories that entertain, but also causes them to look at their own persons and evaluate whether or not change is necessary. All of her works, poetry, essays and short stories included are a gift that the world needed and received. The legacy that she left was one of determination and promise: Determination because no matter what struggles come one's way, if that person has the will to overcome and shine, that person can, and will, succeed.
Smile, The Light of My Father's. "Alice Walker - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 19 Feb. 2009 <
Whitted, Qiana . "New Georgia Encyclopedia: Alice Walker (b. 1944)." New Georgia Encyclopedia. 19 Feb. 2009 <
Walker, Alice . Speakers Worldwide, Inc.. Digital image. [Alice Walker]. Unknown. 19 Feb. 2009 <
Walker, Alice . English 21B: Black Lit. Digital image. [ALice Walker]. 0. Unknown. 19 Feb. 2009 <
lavendar, madmoiselle. Flickr. Digital image. [The Color Purple]. 0. Unknown. 19 Feb. 2009 <
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