The Civil Rights Movement : Alice Walker Essay

The Civil Rights Movement : Alice Walker Essay

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Alice Walker was born on February 9, 1944 in Eatonton, Georgia. Her parents were farmers under the sharecropping system and her family had experienced many instances of violent racism. When Walker was eight, she was accidently shot in the eye with a BB gun by her brother. Because of the isolation she experienced due to her disfigurement caused by scar tissue, she spent a lot of time reading and writing. She was valedictorian of her class in high school which allowed her to attend Spelman, a college for black women. White attending Spelman, she became active in the Civil Rights Movement. During this time, African American women writers were becoming more popular and helped redefine readers’ understanding of the world (Baym and Levine 1081) As a minority writer, her literary works often focus on issues that women within the African American culture face and on the historic connections of black women. In her work, “women emerge as strong and resourceful individuals who achieve selfhood in an emotional and intellectual community with other women” (Bloom 12). She is also a defender of the rights of all people. In her work, Walker sees both sides of a situation; and when it comes to choosing between her characters, she is sparing in her judgement of others (Baym and Levine 1530). Her essays assert the need for black women to “find strength in the literal and metaphorical gardens and quilts of their biological and black ancestral mothers (Alice (Malsenior) Walker 1). These attributes can be seen in Walker’s short story Everyday Use.
Everyday Use, set in the 60s or early 70s, features characters struggling with each other to define their identities within the African American culture. The story begins with Mama, and her daughter, Maggie, ...


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...s leaving and are not affected by what she has said. As Dee (Wangero) puts on her sunglasses and is about to leave, Mama says “Maggie smiled; maybe at the sunglasses. But a real smile, not scared” (Baym and Levine 1537). Mama and Maggie go back to the same lives they have always known and are comfortable with. “After we watched the car dust settle I asked Maggie to bring me a dip of snuff. And then the two of us sat there just enjoying, until it was time to go in the house and go to bed” (Baym and Levine 1537).
As a major author of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry during the late twentieth and early twenty-first century, Alice Walker accentuated the perspective of women, especially African American women, characterizing them as “the mule of the world” (Abbot 42). She advocates strength from African American women and made long strides in the literary world (Hoel 34).

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