Author, poet, and activist, Alice Walker has been an eloquent spokesperson for peace, justice, and beauty for more than three decades. She is an outspoken activist on issues of racism, oppression and power, sexism, military-industrialism, and the protection of indigenous people, and their cultures and natural environments. In 1983, Walker received the Pulitzer Prize for her novel, The Color Purple. Walker took an active role in the making of The Color Purple into a motion picture, produced by Quincy Jones and directed by Steven Spielberg. Her many other books include, The Way Forward Is With a Broken Heart, Meridian, You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down, The Temple of My Familiar, In Search of Our Mother's Garden (which contains her groundbreaking essays on her "womanist" ideology), and Possessing the Secret of Joy (which chronicles the psychic trauma of one woman's life after forced genital mutilation).
Walker was born in Georgia, the eighth and last child of sharecroppers. Her father's great-great-great grandmother, Mary Poole, was a slave forced to walk from Virginia to Georgia with a baby in each arm. Her mother's grandmother was mostly Cherokee Indian. After graduating high school (Walker was her school's valedictorian and prom queen that year), she left home to attend Spelman College in Atlanta. Before leaving, her mother gave her three special gifts: a sewing machine for self-sufficiency, a suitcase for independence, and a typewriter for creativity. While at Spelman, she participated in civil rights demonstrations and was invited to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s home in 1962 in recognition of her invitation to attend the Youth World Peace Festival in Helsinki, Finland. In 1963, she traveled to Washington, D.C. to take part in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Perched in a tree limb to try to get a view, Walker was able to hear Dr. King's "I Have A Dream" address. After spending two years at Spelman, she received a scholarship to Sarah Lawrence College in New York and became one of a handful of African-Americans at the prestigious college. During her junior year she traveled to Africa as an exchange student. After graduating from Sarah Lawrence, from the mid 1960s to the mid 1970s, Walker lived in Tougaloo, Mississippi, during which time she married and had a daughter, and was active in the Civil Rights Movement.
Over the next years, Walker's personal story twisted and turned through many stages of growth as a woman and a writer. Her struggles and victories found their way into her books, inspiring, uplifting, and motivating women and men around the world. Today, Walker continues on her path as a poet, essayist, novelist, world traveler, and spiritual explorer.