On Wednesday, Oct. 14, The Delta Visiting Chair for Global Understanding hosted writer Alice Walker at the University of Georgia Chapel. Alice Walker is famous for her 1983 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Color Purple.” Walker, who UGA Professor Valerie Babb introduced as a “free spirit, humanist and womanist,” is a Georgia native, social rights activist and was the first African American woman to ever be awarded a Pulitzer Prize in fiction. Her lecture focused on her experiences as a world traveler and the experiences from which she drew her inspiration.
Walker discussed that her experience in the Soviet Union and how it highlighted the way American segregation made people feel “unnatural.”
“The Russian people that I met at the border were inviting and more open than people in my hometown,” Walker said. She drew from this experience an understanding that racism and superiority were not natural in the same way that they made people feel unnatural.
Walker also spoke about her experiences in Uganda and Kenya. She explained that she visited Uganda because she saw how friendly and nice her roommate, who had been born in the country, was. She said that though Uganda was beautiful, there was a dictator during that time destroying the country and keeping its people at risk. It was later, in Kenya, that Walker said she first discovered female genital mutilation (FGM). “The subject was taboo in the U.S.,” Walker said. “No one talked about it.”
Walker concluded her lecture by talking about her experiences in Cuba and China. In both countries, she stated that people were being mistreated and were not given the resources necessary to succeed in life. In Cuba, Walker said that racsim was “prevalent” and that leadership under Fidel Castro did not prioritize his people. In China, the people suffered from extreme poverty.
Because of her travels, Walker has been able to understand the world and the different systems of opression in place in each country. Those experiences, according to her, have had great influence over her writing.