Alice Walker The PBS American Masters Interview


Alice Walker has been called one of the major international writers of the 20th century. She made history as the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1983 for her novel “The Color Purple,” one of the few literary works to capture the popular imagination and leave a permanent imprint.

The documentary “Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth” premieres on PBS’ “American Masters” series on Friday at 9 p.m.

KW: I learned so much about you from the film. For instance, I was surprised to hear that Howard Zinn had been a professor of yours in college.

AW: He was already teaching at Spelman [College] when I arrived as a freshperson. I took his class the following year, because I had gone to the Soviet Union and wanted to learn more about Russia, and I think he was the only person in all of Atlanta who knew anything about Russian literature, which I loved. He was teaching Russian literature, the language, and some of the politics. We became really good friends when I took his class, but then he was fired.

KW: For doing more than just teaching.

AW: He helped us desegregate Atlanta. That was moving because he took a lot of abuse for that. He and Staughton Lynd, a fellow professor who was also from the North, stood with us. They were certainly behind us. In fact, they often stood in front of us. This had a huge impact on me. But one of the reasons I was very careful about speaking about the relationship I had with him and Staughton was because, in a racist society, if you acknowledge a deep love for and a deep debt owed to White teachers, they tend to discredit your own parents and your own community. And I was very unhappy about that because I come from somewhere and from specific black people in the South, including my parents, who built our first school, and rebuilt it after it was burned to the ground.

KW: What was it like dealing with the blowback for the next several years coming from critics who said “The Color Purple” was anti-Black men?

AW: It actually lasted for a decade. How could you imagine that people could be mad at you for so long? I felt a great deal of weariness. But because it wasn’t the first time that I had been heavily criticized, I learned that you just keep going and turn to other things.

KW: How do you feel about President Obama’s presidency thus far?

AW: I’m very disappointed in Obama. I was very much in support of him in the beginning, but I cannot support war. I cannot support droning. I cannot support capitulating to the banks. I cannot support his caving in to Netanyahu [Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu]. There’s a long list of this administration’s initiatives that I find unsupportable. I think many black people support him because they’re so happy to have handsome black man in the White House.

41 total views, 18 views today

Alice Walker  The PBS American Masters Interview

Comments

Latest Tweets

    Message: Rate limit exceeded, Please check your Twitter Authentication Data or internet connection.