“No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.”
When I met and interviewed Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, activist and humanitarian Alice Walker in 2004, it was the fulfillment of a dream that I felt completely unprepared for. The publication of Evelyn C. White’s amazing Alice Walker: A Life and the adaptation of The Color Purple into a Broadway play allowed me the opportunity to meet the gracious Walker at her home in Berkeley. Here’s my profile of her.
Walker’s entire canon of work inspired me, from The Color Purple to her wonderful collection of essays, In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens. There were dozens more over the years, but knowing that there was out there another black woman writer in the universe who had been born into a poor family in the South but who had written her way to greatness was the single most formative aspect to my growth as a writer.
What I deeply admired about Alice Walker, too, among so many other things, was that she stood her ground as a single lady despite attacks on her work by black men, mainly, when The Color Purple came out. The most important gift her work and presence gave me was that it showed me what freedom looks like. It is the gift that keeps on giving.
“Be nobody’s darling;
Be an outcast.
Qualified to live
Among your dead” ~ From Revolutionary Petunias
“I have endeavored to live my life by my terms & that means I am a renegade, an outlaw, a pagan…& there is no reason not to rebel.”
“Resistance to tyranny is the secret of joy. It means that the joy is in the struggle against whatever is keeping you from being your true self. You have to fight it. You cannot expect to have happiness in an intolerable situation where you are thoroughly oppressed and violated. There is no greater joy than being who you are and what you are and truly that.” ~ From The World Has Changed: Conversations with Alice Walker
“We are the ones we have been waiting for.”