Gathering Blossoms Under Fire: A Conversation with Alice Walker

THU MAY 5, 7:30 PM
Online via Crowdcast, please register at

From National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker comes an unprecedented compilation of Walker’s fifty years of journals, edited by the late critic and writer Valerie Boyd, drawing an intimate portrait of Walker’s development over five decades as an artist, human rights and women’s rights activist, and intellectual.

For the first time, the edited journals of Alice Walker are gathered together to reflect the complex, passionate, talented, and acclaimed author of The Color Purple. Walker explores her thoughts and feelings as a woman, a writer, an African-American, a wife, a daughter, a mother, a lover, a sister, a friend, a citizen of the world.

In an unvarnished and singular voice, she explores an astonishing array of events: marching in Mississippi with other foot soldiers of the Civil Rights Movement, led by Martin Luther King, Jr.; her marriage to a white Jewish lawyer, defying laws that barred interracial marriage in the 1960s South; an early miscarriage; writing her first novel; the trials and triumphs of the Women’s Movement; erotic encounters and enduring relationships; the ancestral visits that led her to write The Color Purple; winning the Pulitzer Prize; being admired and maligned, sometimes in equal measure, for her work and her activism; and burying her mother. A powerful blend of the personal and political, this revealing collection offers rare insight into a literary legend.

Alice Walker will engage in conversation with Emily Bernard, the author of Black is the Body: Stories from Grandmother’s Time, My Mother's Time, and Mine, which was named one of the best books of 2019 by Kirkus Reviews and National Public Radio and received the 2020 LA Times Christopher Isherwood Prize for autobiographical prose. Her essays have been reprinted in Best American Essays, Best African American Essays, and Best of Creative Nonfiction. A 2020 Andrew Carnegie Fellow, Bernard is the Julian Lindsay Green and Gold Professor of English at the University of Vermont.

Presented in partnership with The Project on the History of Black Writing, this event will be introduced and moderated by Ayesha Hardison, Project Director and Associate Professor in the Departments of English and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Kansas.


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