In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose

Part II

In Part II of In Search of Our Mother's Gardens Alice Walker focuses on the Civil Rights Movement and the important leaders who made contributions to it. Through these essays, she also exemplifies how important the Civil Rights Movements' aims were for African Americans. Part Two includes the following essays:

  • "The Civil Rights Movement: What Good Was it?"
  • "The Unglamorous but Worthwhile Duties of the Black Revolutionary Artist, or of the Black Writer Who Simply Works and Writes"
  • "My Father's Country is Poor"
  • "Making the Moves and the Movies We Want"
  • "Good Morning, Revolution:Uncollected Writings of Social Protest"
  • "Choice: A tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr."
  • "Coretta King: Revisted"
  • "Choosing to Stay at Home: Ten Years after the March on Washington"
  • "Lulls"
  • "Recording the Season"
  • "The Almost Year"

In many of these essays Walker describes her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement and explores the positives and negatives of the Civil Rights Movement's purpose. At the time of Civil Rights, Walker comprehends that she needs to make a change. She commences to take action by visiting several homes and handing out registration ballots so the privileged and underprivileged could vote. She met a Jewish law student named Mel Leventhal, who gave her inspiration to write "The Civil Rights Movement: What Good Was it?." Many people believed that Civil Rights Movement was dead. Alice Walker points out that if it is dead, she will explain why she believes that it is not. For many African Americans, the Civil Rights Movement gave them a sense of hope and freedom. She shows that whites would see the Civil Rights Movement as being dead because they did not have to go through the struggles and sacrifices that African-Americans had to encounter. They did not have to show interest because this movement was intended to help African-Americans to be equal and get the same rights as white people. White people already had the rights that the law granted and African Americans were still fighting for it. Besides that she points out that other ethnicities were unable to understand the significance behind the Civil Rights Movement and its importance for African Americans.

Of the Civil Rights Movement, Walker says, "It gave us history and men far greater than presidents. It gave us heroes. Selfless men of courage and strength, for our little boys and girls to follow. It gave us hope for tomorrow. It called us to life. Because we live, it can never die".[9] "Choice: A Tribute to Dr. Luther King Jr." emphasizes how much passion and respect Walker has for Dr. King. In this particular essay, she speaks from a restaurant that refused to serve African Americans in 1972. Walker is able to learn from Dr. King's experience because as an African American, she had to endure those same struggles. Walker's mother taught her and her siblings to embrace their culture but at the same time to move up north to escape the harsh realities of the South. Walker and her mother were present for Dr. King's infamous speech. Ultimately, this changes Walker's perspective on racism and the effects of the Civil Rights Movement within the African-American community. Dr. King's example greatly inspires Walker's viewpoint of how she sees the South.

The backlash of racial tension between blacks and whites were extreme. Dr. King was seen as a savior for the African-American community. Walker recalls, "He gave us continuity of place, without which community is ephemeral. He gave us home".[10] Due to her great admiration for Dr. King, she returns to the South to empower African-American communities.

In "The Almost Year", Alice Walker explains how the author Florence Randall explains how she wants blacks and whites to embrace one another. She clarifies that "she seeks to find a way in which black abused and poor and white privileged and rich can meet and exchange some warmth of themselves.[11] Walker's perspective is that if both blacks and whites can stop the racial equality that blacks and whites will not be divided. In this house, a black girl feels somewhat threatened being an all-white household. Due to these circumstances, Walker provides a sense of division between the black girl and the family that is providing a home for her to feel free. The black girl cannot embrace the warmth from the Mallory's family because she feels that all white people are to hurt black people. Walker explains how the Civil Rights Movement intended to bring both blacks and whites together. Walker wants to show how a black girl should not have to feel unequal when they are around white people.

Moreover, in "Coretta King: Revisited," Alice Walker describes an interview with Coretta Scott King. Walker presents her as more than a mother and wife; she is similar to her husband, and is making a conscientious effort to fight for equality and civil liberties for African Americans. Walker sees strength in Coretta Scott King, a woman who just lost her husband due to the acts of violence from others. Walker finds it difficult to understand how a woman who just lost a loved one to the brutality, could continue in the battle for Civil Rights. Walker praises the fact that Coretta Scott King did not just sit back but took actions to help with different campaigns. Walker converses with her on about "black people in power and the whites who work with them"[12] and Ms. King says, "I don't believe that black people are going to misuse power in the way it has been misused. I think they've learned from their experiences. And we've seen instances where black and white work together effectively".[13]


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