Alice Walker Part 10 of 15 Black Authors
Alice Walker (February 9, 1944-Present)
Sometimes you know the writing before you know the author. That was the case of Alice Walker and me. I remember awkwardly sitting in the movie theatre with my grandmother and my aunt when I was about fifteen years watching this new movie that Oprah Winfrey was going to star in. I had no concept of who Oprah Winfrey was and why we cared that she was going to be in a movie. For me, it was always a big deal to see more than one black person in a movie, so to know that this movie was all about black people was great. The awkward part came in during the first few minutes of the movie when Celie gives birth to what we learn is her second baby by her stepfather.
That wouldn’t be the only awkward moment, but it certainly is the one that stands out in my mind. I had so many questions that I knew I would never ask. I wanted to know why, how, who? But then again, I didn’t. I fell in love with The Color Purple movie for a lot of reasons.
By fifteen, my love of books was not just in the reading, but in writing. I had written a novel by then. Yep, I typed on the back of old mail, notebook paper, and whatever else I could feed through my sisters’ typewriter. I remember being in the bookstore and seeing the huge stand dedicated to the book, The Color Purple. I was confused. What? I thought. A book of the movie. Like Roots? Cool. I bought it. It would take me another year and a half to finish reading it. I did not grow up during the internet age, so research took a little bit more effort and a lot more time. I was shocked to realize that the substantial deep purple cover with the outline of Whoopi Goldberg as Celie was not the original book cover. I mean, duh. I should have known that, but I was a kid, and I didn’t know, so when I saw the book on the shelf in the library, and it looked significantly different, it drew me to it. Remember, I had purchased this book already, but it didn’t stop me from checking it out at the library. This one was different. I wanted to look at it, examine it, find out more about this Alice Walker person. I did.
Pulitzer Prize? What? What the hell is a Pulitzer Prize? National Book Award? More stuff to research. The Third Life of Grange Copeland. Who? What? More stuff to research. Alice Walker was born in Eatonton, Georgia, on February 9, 1944. Walker later attended Spelman College and Sarah Lawrence College. Walker lost sight in her left eye after being accidentally shot in it with a BB gun. Losing the sight in her eye prompted her interest in reading and writing; thus, an author is born. It is strange how God has a way of forcing us down specific paths in our lives, and this is the path that he chose for Walker.
In 1975 Alice Walker wrote an article in Ms. Magazine of which she was the editor, entitled, In Search of Zora Neale Hurston. Her interest and influence reignited a fire and interest in the anthropologist/writer and sparked new life into Hurston’s book, Their Eyes Were Watching God. Alice Walker is more than The Color Purple, but that is the work that has put her on the map. I think that every good writer, any writer worth their weight in words, hopes for a book like that. I found Alice Walker because of The Color Purple, but it made me realize that she is more than The Color Purple.
Alice Walker is a feminist, “womanist,” writer, and activist. Alice Walker’s passion for humanity shines through all that she has done and all that I hope she will continue to do.