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Hall of Fame Honorees

Alice Walker

It is Alice Walker's belief that in every generation each family on Earth gives birth to its own "healers." She believes this has been her role in her own family. Walker listened intently to the whispered memories, dreams, joys, complaints, and sufferings that swirled around her as a child. As an adult, Walker functioned as a healer to her family, employing a medicine bundle that contained aspects of their collective stories, poems, and songs suitable for healing both the family and the community at large. She believes this role is an ancient, honorable tradition that all families once understood, but has long since passed from our collective memory.

Alice Walker was born on February 9, 1944 in Eatonton>, Georgia, the eighth child of African American sharecroppers. In addition to being farmers, her family also tended large herds of cows. It was from her observations of these subtle animals that Walker learned about patience, integrity, and stillness. Much loved and supported by her teachers and community, she graduated the valedictorian of her high school class. Walker began her involvement with the Civil Rights Movement in Atlanta, where she attended Spelman College for two years. In 1966, Walker graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. Her first book of poetry, Once, was published in 1968 while she was still a student.

By the time Once was published, Walker was living in Mississippi and working on the completion of her first novel, The Third Life of Grange Copeland. Five more novels followed: MeridianThe Color Purple (which won the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award), The Temple of My FamiliarPossessing the Secret of Joy, and By the Light of My Father's Smile. She is also the author of three short story collections and three volumes of collected essays, including Warrior Marks: Female Genital Mutilation and the Sexual Blinding of Women, which details Walker's decade-long struggle against the practice of ritual female genital mutilation.

Walker worked many day jobs (as a salesperson, waitress, and file clerk), before she began teaching at colleges and universities. She was also a contributing and fiction editor for Ms. magazine. A longtime advocate for social change, Walker has received numerous prizes and awards for her contributions. Her work has been widely translated into many languages, and sales of her books total in the millions.

In 2007, her archives were opened to the public at Emory University. In 2010 she presented the key note address at The 11th Annual Steve Biko Lecture at the University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa, and was awarded the Lennon/Ono Peace Grant in Reykjavik, Iceland. (Walker donated this latter award to an orphanage for the children of AIDS victims in East Africa.) She served as jurist  (2010 and 2012)for two sessions of The Russell Tribunal on Palestine in Cape Town, South Africa, and NYC, New York.Walker's recent works include: Overcoming Speechlessness: A Poet Encounters the Horror in Rwanda, Eastern Congo and Palestine/IsraelHard Times Require Furious DancingThe World Has Changed: Conversations with Alice Walker; and The Chicken Chronicles: Sitting With the Angels Who Have Returned With My Memories, a Memoir. She also writes regularly on her blog site at www.alicewalkersgarden.com.Two new books by Walker were published in 2013:  The Cushion in the Road:  Meditation and Wandering as the Whole World Awakens to Being in Harm’s Way; and The World Will Follow Joy: Turning Madness into Flowers (New Poems). Walker has been an activist all of her adult life, and believes that learning to extend the range of our compassion is activity and work available to all. She is a staunch defender not only of human rights, but of the rights of all living beings. She is one of the world’s most prolific writers, yet tirelessly continues to travel the world to literally stand on the side of the poor, and the economically, spiritually and politically oppressed. She also stands, however, on the side of the revolutionaries, teachers and leaders who seek change and transformation of the world. Upon returning from Gaza in 2008, Walker said, “Going to Gaza was our opportunity to remind the people of Gaza and ourselves that we belong to the same world: the world where grief is not only acknowledged, but shared; where we see injustice and call it by its name; where we see suffering and know the one who stands and sees is also harmed, but not nearly so much as the one who stands and sees and says and does nothing.”

Alice Walker lives in Northern California.

Bibliography

The following titles are a selection* of the many works by Alice Walker that are held by the Hall of Fame Library:

Once: Poems. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1968.

The Third Life of Grange Copeland. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1970.

In Love and Trouble: Stories of Black Women. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1973.

Revolutionary Petunias & Other Poems.New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1973.

Langston Hughes, American Poet. New York: Crowell, 1974.

Meridian New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1976.

Good Night, Willie Lee, I'll See You In The Morning: Poems. New York: Dial Press, 1979.

You Can't Keep A Good Woman Down: Stories. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1981.

The Color Purple. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1982.

In Search Of Our Mother's Gardens: Womanist Prose. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983.

Horses Make A Landscape Look More Beautiful: Poems. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984.

Living By The Word: Selected Writings. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988.

To Hell With Dying. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988.

The Temple Of My Familiar. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1989. Womanist. Stillwater: Nancy Leavitt, 1989.

Her Blue Body Everything We Know: Earthling Poems, 1965-1990. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1991.

Finding The Green Stone. San Diego, CA: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1991.

Possessing The Secret Of Joy. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1992.

Warrior Marks: Female Genital Mutilation And The Sexual Binding Of Women. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1993.

The Complete Stories. London: The Women’s Press, 1994.

The Same River Twice: Honoring The Difficult: A Mediation On Life, Spirit, Art, And The Making Of The Film, The Color Purple, Ten Years Later. New York: Scribner, 1996.

Anything We Love Can Be Saved. New York: Random House, 1997.

By The Light Of My Father's Smile. New York: Random House, 1998.

The Way Forward Is With A Broken Heart. New York: Random House, 2000.

Sent by Earth: A Message from the Grandmother Spirit after the Attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. New York: Seven Stories, 2001.

A Poem Traveled Down My Arm: Poems and Drawings. New York: Random House, 2003.

Now Is the Time to Open Your Heart: A Novel. New York: Random House, 2004.

There Is a Flower at the Tip of My Nose Smelling Me. New York: Harper Collins, 2006.

We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For: Inner Light in a Time of Darkness: Meditations. New York: New Press, 2006.

Why War Is Never a Good Idea. New York: HarperCollins, 2007.

Overcoming Speechlessness. New York: Seven Stories Press, c2010.

Hard Times Require Furious Dancing. New York: New World Library, c2010.

*The University of Georgia Library also holds numerous variant editions and foreign language translations of these titles, as well as copies of books edited or published by Ms. Walker, uncorrected proof copies of various novels and poetry collections by her, and recordings of interviews and readings. For a full listing of Ms. Walker’s works in the UGA Libraries, consult the Libraries’ online catalog (GIL) or contact Hargrett Rare Book & Manuscript Library staff for assistance.

Additional Links

Manuscript Holdings

The Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library of Emory University (Atlanta) holds Alice Walker’s literary manuscripts, personal papers, and official and personal correspondence.

Alice Walker
INDUCTEE: 2002

Born: February 9, 1944
Eatonton, Georgia

University of Georgia Libraries | Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library