Alice Malsenior Walker 1944 -
Alice Walker is best known as a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and author of The Color Purple. She was the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for Literature and a recipient of the National Book Award. She was born in Eatonton, Georgia to parents who were sharecroppers.
At age four, Walker’s mother enrolled her into the first grade in fear of Alice not being educated or living her life with opportunities. When she was in elementary school her older brother was playing and purposefully shot her in the eye with a BB gun. That led to her becoming permanently blind in one eye and feeling self-conscious so she slowly isolated herself. This isolation is what helped her turn to reading books and writing poetry at a young age.
Walker graduated high school as valedictorian and received a full scholarship to Spelman College in Atlanta, but later transferred and graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in New York in 1965. During her last year of college she participated in a study abroad trip to Africa, which is when she published her first short story.
Due to her activism during college she became increasingly interested in joining the Civil Rights Movement. Walker even participated in the March on Washington in 1963 and stated that Martin Luther King Jr. had a major influence on her decision to move back to the South as a civil rights activist. So, Walker moved back to the South, specifically Mississippi, where she contributed to the movement by helping with voter registration drives, campaigns for welfare rights and children’s programs. She also would work as social worker, teacher and lecturer during the 60s.
During the early 1970s Walker joined Ms. Magazine, a liberal feminist magazine, as an editor. She explored different forms of writing in this period while producing her first children's book and two other novels. Her first novel published in 1970 titled The Third Life of Grange Copeland examined the life of a sharecropper who ultimately runs away and tries to start a new a life in the North. In 1976, she published her second novel titled Meridian, a semi-autobiographical account of her experiences during the Civil Rights movement.
In 1982, Walker would publish her most internationally best-known work and bestseller, The Color Purple. Because of its success Steven Spielberg directed the movie in 1985. She has continued over the years to write a collection of short stories, poetry and more. Today, Walker continues to write and work as an activist.