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Alice Walker A Writing Activist. The Humble Beginnings  Feb. 9 th, 1944—Alice Walker is born to sharecropper parents (one of 9 children) in Eatonton,

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Presentation on theme: "Alice Walker A Writing Activist. The Humble Beginnings  Feb. 9 th, 1944—Alice Walker is born to sharecropper parents (one of 9 children) in Eatonton,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Alice Walker A Writing Activist

2 The Humble Beginnings  Feb. 9 th, 1944—Alice Walker is born to sharecropper parents (one of 9 children) in Eatonton, Georgia.  1952—Alice Walker is blinded by a BB shot by one of her brothers. This incident while physically traumatizing—also emotionally traumatizes her for life and she writes about it frequently.

3 Living With Grandma &Grandpa  Because of the eye, she went to live with her grandparents and also because of a teacher who told her parents about the schools in their district.  Although she always felt isolated and even punished for it.  Begins writing stories and poems as a way of dealing with her eye—the heroine always looked like Alice Walker.

4 More Experiences  1958 she visits her brother and his wife in Boston, MA. She has a cataract removed along with most of the scar tissue and she is given a fake eye which makes her look more normal.  1960 she graduates valedictorian from her high school, most popular girl in class and even prom queen.

5 Campus Activism 101  1961 Walker attends Spelman College, the famous African-American college for women  she ultimately rejects Spelman because it’s too nice and proper without the political issues and consciousness she craves in a changing world.  Her community raised the money for her to take the bus to school.  She does try to participate in Civil Rights activities at Spelman, but there isn’t much push for “feminist” civil rights there.

6 Campus Activism 101  She went to the World Peace conference in Helsinki, Finland while at Spelman.  She also met Coretta Scott King & participated in the march on Washington where she heard the famous “I Have A Dream,” speech.  However, she noticed while these did great things for civil rights in small ways, there wasn’t anything that was directly making the lives better for women or the people back home.

7 Advanced College Activism  Spelman didn’t like Walker’s activism.  Their goal was to produce educated ladies for future black leaders, not to produce activists  Walker “left” and went to Sarah Lawrence college in New York City.

8 1964  Walker went to Africa as an exchange student in Uganda. She wrote a lot there, mainly poetry about the people and their lives.  This was before the “Black Arts Movement” in America, but it certainly inspired her own writing.

9 Abortion  Alice Walker upon returning from Africa discovered she was pregnant  abortion a sin in her tight knit religious family  there was little money to support herself as a scholarship student (no such thing as child support then either).  Walker has an abortion, and slips into depression ( Walker considers suicide)

10 Walker Graduates…and then  After graduation, Alice spent the summer in Liberty County, Georgia  helped to initiate the welfare rights movement, and went door to door to registering voters in the African-American community  Her work with the most needy citizens in the state helped her to see the impact of poverty on relationships.  Whenever she found some free time, Alice sat down and continued to write.  She moved to New York City where she worked for the welfare department.  She was awarded her first writing grant in She had wanted to go to Africa to write, but decided against it and went down to Mississippi.  There she met a civil rights attorney, Melvyn Leventhal

11 Married Life  She married Melvyn Leventhal in 1967  Rebecca Walker (a well known author and feminist in her own right)  became the first interracial legally married couple in Mississippi.  While her husband fought school desegration in the courts, Alice worked as a history consultant for the Friends of the Children Mississippi Head Start Program history.

12 Writing As A Young Wife  In 1968, her first book of poetry, Once, that she had begun in college was finally published  Alice also made her official debut into the literary world when she published her first short story, "To Hell with Dying”, a reaction to all of the negative feelings she had as a result of undergoing an abortion

13 1972  Walker takes Rebecca and they go to Cambridge, MA.  Walker teaches a course at Wellesley College in African-American Women’s Literature.  First of it’s kind in the country.  Second book of poems, Revolutionary Petunias and Other Poems. This is nominated for a National Book Award. It eventually wins the Lillian Smith Award from the Southern Regional Council.

14 More Publications.  In 1974, Alice's book, Langston Hughes: American Poet was published, which was a reader whose intention was to teach children about the legendary Harlem Renaissance Poet.

15 1976  Alice moved to New York City with her husband and her daughter  Alice worked only part-time at the magazine and dedicated the remainder of her time to her writing.  Published, Meridan, a novel that was highly critically acclaimed about women in the civil rights movement.

16 1977  Her husband asks for a divorce, her father died and it was a very painful time for her.  She began work on a third work of poetry, Good Night Willie Lee, I'll See You in the Morning.

17 Sisterhood  Alice came up with the idea of writing a story about two women who felt married to the same man.  She also wanted to make her novel a historical one.  a walk with her sister, Ruth, into the woods  While there, they discussed about a love triangle who they both knew about. Suddenly the missing piece of her novel came together.

18 New Beginnings  Alice made plans to leave the house in New York she had bought less than three months earlier.  It was her daughter, Rebecca's year to live with her father, so Alice packed up her bags and flew alone to San Francisco, CA.  renewed her long-time friendship with Robert Allen, a man whom she met during her time at Spelman

19 Writing TCP  San Francisco was not a beneficial for the growth of her characters.  Alice and her lover packed up their bags in search of a better environment  They moved to the city of Mendocino (like Georgia)

20 Tragedy  The book was written in what Alice termed as "Black Folks English.”  Speech that wouldn't intimidate men and women, like her mother  Only read a few pages and never gets a chance to finish it (suffered major stroke and was never able to finish the novel)

21 Internal Cultural Criticism  Although she received a lot of praise for her novel, she received criticism from some in the African-American community who thought her novel portrayed black men in negative stereotypical fashion as abusers and rapists.  Just like Zora Neale Hurston's critics during the Harlem Renaissance, some had not even read her book before offering attacks (“small minded”)

22 Awards  Alice earned an American Book Award for The Color Purple.  She was also nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for fiction which she went on to win in  She became the first African-American novelist to win the Pulitzer Prize.


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