Read Living by the Word Online

Authors: Alice Walker

Living by the Word (23 page)

Walker being taken into custody at a 1980s demonstration against weapons shipments sent from Concord, California, to Central and South America. Her shirt reads: “Remember Port Chicago.” This is a reference to an explosion that killed hundreds of sailors stationed in Concord during World War II—most of them black—while they were loading munitions onto a cargo vessel. Walker has remained a dedicated political activist since the 1960s, when she returned to the South after graduating from Sarah Lawrence to help register black voters. Recently, she was arrested with fellow California-based author Maxine Hong Kingston in Washington, DC, during a protest against the U.S. invasion of Iraq. “My activism—cultural, political, spiritual—is rooted in my love of nature and my delight in human beings,” Walker explains.

Walker with celebrated historian Howard Zinn, who taught one of her classes at Spelman College, in the 1960s. Walker developed a lifelong friendship with Zinn and considered him one of her mentors. The two shared a passion for political activism and a desire to shed light on the conditions of the oppressed. “I was Howard’s student for only a semester,” she says, “but in fact, I have learned from him all my life. His way with resistance—steady, persistent, impersonal, often with humor—is a teaching I cherish.”

A photograph of Walker taken in 2007 at a ceremony for her dog, Marley, and her cat, Surprise. “Marley appeared,” she says, but “Surprise slept through it!”

Walker at her country home in Northern California, where she has lived since the early 1980s. “What attracted me to this part of the world—Northern California—is really the resemblance to Georgia that it has,” she once told an interviewer. “This has been a very good place for me,” she went on, “a very good place for dreaming.”

Walker writing on the front porch of her California home. She has lived in many different places throughout the world—including Africa, Hawaii, and Mexico—and finding a place to write has always been a matter of utmost importance for her. She once said that “books and houses” are what she “longed for most as a child.” Years after her tenant farming childhood, Walker is happy to have a place she can truly call home.

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this ebook onscreen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of the publisher.

Permission has been granted to reprint quotations from the following:
Two Thousand Seasons
by Ayi Kwei Armah, copyright 1979 by Ayi Kwei Armah, Thurd World Press; “Coming in from the Cold,” words and music by Bob Marley, © 1980 Almo Music Corp.; “The Democratic Order: Such Things in 20 Years I Understood,” from
, copyright © 1968 by Alice Walker; and “Family Of” and Dedication from
Horses Make a Landscape Look More Beautiful
, copyright © 1984 by Alice Walker, Harcourt, Inc.; “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson, copyright 1966 by Larabee Publications;
Daughters of Copper Woman
by Anne Cameron, copyright 1981 by Anne Cameron, Press Gang Publishers;
The New York Times
, copyright © 1985/1986 by The New York Times Company.

copyright © 1988, 1987, 1986, 1985, 1984, 1981 by Alice Walker

cover design by Milan Bozic


This edition published in 2011 by Open Road Integrated Media

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