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Biography of Alice Walker (1944-)

Alice Walker Alice Walker

Alice Walker was born on February 9, 1944 in Putnam County, Georgia. She is an accomplished American poet, novelist, and activist. Walker was the eighth and youngest child of Minnie Tallulah Grant Walker and Willie Lee Walker. Her father was a poor sharecropper who had once remarked that Alice was "wonderful at math but a terrible farmer." In the summer of 1952, Walker was blinded in her right eye by a BB gun pellet while playing with her brother. Alice grew up in an environment rife with racism and poverty which, along with passion for gender issues, remains a large part of her narratives.

To help send her to college, Walker's mother worked eleven-hour days as a maid for a meager seventeen dollars a week. (White) Walker flourished in an academic environment. After two years at Spelman College, she received a scholarship to Sarah Lawrence College in New York. She became one of a chosen few young black students to attend the prestigious school. Walker was involved with many civil rights demonstrations, and in 1962 she was invited to the home of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Much like her character Dee in Everyday Use, Walker believes that the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s was the dawn of a new day for Black America in terms of both identity and political rights. Walker has spent her life as an activist for equal rights in America.

Walker celebrated the display of African American culture through everyday artifacts. Unlike her character of Dee, Walker is keenly aware of the differences between ancestral roots and family roots

She wrote the critically acclaimed novel The Color Purple (1982) for which she won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Walker's work, including Everyday Use, can be found in many popular anthologies of American fiction and poetry.

Study Guides on Works by Alice Walker