You may know about Alice Walker, as the acclaimed author of The Color Purple, which became an Academy Award nominated film by Steven Spielberg. But are you aware of her other work as a poet and essayist? Are you aware of her work as an activist?
As a woman of color attending elite private universities (U Penn and NYU) during the late 80’s and early 90’s, I felt very isolated. Tired of being called “ethnic” by many of my sheltered peers and uninspired by much of the curriculum, it was a struggle to complete my Bachelor’s Degree.
When I found Alice Walker’s collection of essays, In Search of our Mother’s Gardens, it changed everything. Her essays and poems connected me to a community of folks I had not known existed before: a world of successful, intellectual African-American authors, artists and thinkers. For the first time, I no longer felt alone.
This quote, from an essay in this book, titled “The Unglamorous but Worthwhile Duties of the Black Revolutionary Artist, or of the Black Writer Who Simply Works and Writes” explains my experience and the experience of many Black Americans, specifically where school is concerned:
“So for the past four years I’ve been in still another college. This time simply a college of books–musty old books that went out of print years ago–and of old people, the old black men and women I could find, and a college of the young; students and dropouts who articulate in various bold and shy ways that they believe themselves to be without a valuable history, without a respectable music, without writing or poetry that speaks to them.”
Alice Walker’s writing inspired in me a thirst for knowledge. And, like Alice Walker, the more I learned, the more I wanted to share my discoveries with a next generation.