Living a life ready for surprises, Alice Malsenior Walker (1944-) drew upon vivid childhood memories to craft her writing. Born in Eatonton, Georgia, she learned about strength and determination as the eighth child of poor sharecroppers.
An accident blinded her right eye at age eight and she retreated within, exploring the depths of her soul and heart.
"Surely the earth can be saved by all the people who insist on love," she said.
Like her mentor Zora Neale Hurston, Walker used her pen to change the world and as a way of "paying homage to the people I love... people who taught me to see beauty." Her novels, short stories, and poems are celebrations of feminism, African American identity, and social justice.
"Black women can survive only by recovering the rich heritage of their ancestors," she explained, finding power in ideas and words.
In 1982 Walker became the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for Literature with her masterpiece, The Color Purple which became a popular Steven Spielberg film with Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey in 1985.
In her passionate 1983 nonfiction book In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens, Walker coined the term womanist, a black feminist who is "outrageous, audacious, courageous, and willful, responsible, in charge, serious."
"This feeling of being loved and supported by the universe in general and by certain recognizable spirits in particular is bliss," she said.
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Life is largely a matter of expectations.