UF2A Research Writing
May 19, 2011
African-American literature is the body of literature produced in the United States by writers of African descent. Throughout history, many African-American writers have helped their community by gaining an influence on the American society; especially, in the Civil Rights Movement. By being an African-American and a woman, AliceWalker’s work has been influenced by her past and her life as an activist in the Civil Rights Movement, and as a result, her work helped in a strongly, positively way the Women’s Right Movement.
"Purple is to lavender as woman is to feminist" - Alice Walker. In 1848, the first Women’s Conference held in the Seneca Falls, NY, and with it, the organized feminism kick off (EServer). The Women'sMovement evolved out of social reform groups such as the Abolition of Slavery, the Social Purity and Temperance movements (a social movement urging reduced use of alcoholic beverages). Women began to realize that in order to transform society, they would need their own organization to do so. Therefore, they campaigned upon a whole range of issues; from guardianship of infants, property rights, divorce,access to higher education and the medical professions, to equal pay and protective legislation for women workers. Many of which, women are still campaigning for today.
Alice Malsenior Walker the last child of eight children, was born on February 9, 1944, in Eatonton, Georgia, to Willie Lee and Minnie Tallulah (Grant) Walker. Living under Jim Crow Laws both of her parents were sharecroppers (afarmer who rents his land). In the book The World has Changed: Conversations with Alice Walker, she answers a question made by Michael Toms [from New Dimensions radio series], explaining “what prompted her to start writing” where she explains that one of the reason why she started writing was because she grew up in a very large family, she was lonely and always lived in very poor and smallhousing. Thanks to this, she needed to be outside the house in order to think and her head became “the only sacred safe place to be most of the time” because of this large family. She tells that she carried over that feeling of self-space so that every crisis in her life as a child she found some form of written creativity (Byrd, 159). For instance, in 1952, when Walker was accidentally wounded in theright eye by a shot from a BB gun fired by one of her brothers and because the family had no access to a car, they were unable to take their daughter to a hospital for immediate treatment (White, 4). When they finally brought her to a physician a week later, she was permanently blind in that eye and a disfiguring layer of scar tissue was form over it. Thanks to this, she became self-conscious andpainfully shy and when the other kids started staring at her and sometimes taunting her, she felt like an outcast and turned for solace to reading and writing poetry (Newsmakers).
When Walker was 14 years old, she went to visit her brother Bill in Boston, Massachusetts, and he took her to have the scar tissue on her eye removed. In the beginning of her essay In Search of Our Mother's Gardens, shewrote:
Almost immediately, I became a different person from the girl who does not raise her head. Or so I think. Now that I have raised my head, I win the boyfriend of my dreams. Now that I have raised my head, I have plenty of friends. Now that I have raised my head class work comes from my lips as faultlessly as Easter speeches did, and I leave high school as valedictorian, most popularstudent, and queen, hardly believing my luck.
Ironically, Walker's disability, which once push her into a shell, helped her win a scholarship for handicapped students to Atlanta's Spelman College, the oldest college for African American women in the country and she started classes in 1961.
While still in high school, thanks to television, Walker had become exposed to the civil rights...
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