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Alice Walker is an African-American novelist and poet; born in Eatonton, Ga.
Her parents, Minnie Lou Grant and Willie Lee Walker, were both sharecroppers.
She was raised in a shack minutes from Flannery O'Conner's house,
"Andalusia". Blinded in one eye from an accidental gunshot wound at
the young age of eight, Walker fell into somewhat of a depression. She secluded
herself from the other children, and as she explains, "I no longer felt
like the little girl I was. I felt old, and because I felt I was unpleasant to
look at, filled with shame. I retreated into solitude, and read stories and
began to write poems."
Walker later won a Spelman College scholarship for disabled students. Her
involvement in various civil rights demonstrations led to her dismissal. She
then won another scholarship at the progressive Sarah Lawrence College. In 1964
she traveled to Uganda, Africa where she studied as an exchange student. Upon
her return in 1965, she received her B.A. degree. She was then awarded a writing
fellowship and was planning to spend it in Senegal, West Africa. Her plans
changed, however, after working as a caseworker in the New York City welfare
department. She, instead, decided to volunteer her time working at the voter
registration drive in Mississippi in the summer of 1966, later claiming that her
decision had been based on "the realization that I could never live happily
in Africa-or anywhere else-until I could live freely in Mississippi"
In 1967, Walker married Mel Leventhal, a white activist civil rights lawyer,
and one-year later Walker gave birth to their daughter Rebecca. It was not until
she began teaching that her writing carrier began to take off. She started at
Jackson State, then Tougaloo, and finally at Wellesley College. She was also a
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