HOLY HERETIC DEVOTIONAL – Feb. 11, 2017 – SHEROES & HEROES: ACTIVISTS
Compiled by Mercy Junction Justice and Peace Center Director Beth Foster
“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” — Alice Walker
Alice Malsenior Walker (born February 9, 1944) is an American novelist, short story writer, poet, and activist. She wrote the critically acclaimed novel The Color Purple (1982) for which she won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. She also wrote Meridian and The Third Life of Grange Copeland, among other works.
In 1965, Walker met Melvyn Rosenman Leventhal, a Jewish civil rights lawyer. They were married on March 17, 1967, in New York City. Later that year the couple relocated to Jackson, Mississippi, becoming “the first legally married inter-racial couple in Mississippi.”They were harassed and threatened by whites, including the Ku Klux Klan. The couple had a daughter, Rebecca, in 1969. Walker and her husband divorced in 1976.
In the mid-1990s, Walker was involved in a romance with singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman: “It was delicious and lovely and wonderful and I totally enjoyed it and I was completely in love with her but it was not anybody’s business but ours.”
Walker was also strongly affected by her teen pregnancy and abortion before her senior year of college in the summer of 1965. She became severely depressed and determined to commit suicide. This emotional trauma she experienced pushed her to write her first book of poems Once.
Walker met Martin Luther King Jr. when she was a student at Spelman College in the early 1960s. She credits King for her decision to return to the American South as a civil rights activist for the Civil Rights Movement. She took part in the 1963 March on Washington. Later, she volunteered to register black voters in Georgia and Mississippi. On March 8, 2003, International Women’s Day, on the eve of the Iraq War, Walker was arrested with 26 others, including fellow authors Maxine Hong Kingston and Terry Tempest Williams, for crossing a police line during an anti-war rally outside the White House. In an interview with Democracy Now, Walker said, “I was with other women who believe that the women and children of Iraq are just as dear as the women and children in our families, and that, in fact, we are one family. And so it would have felt to me that we were going over to actually bomb ourselves.” Walker wrote about the experience in her essay “We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For.”
Walker feminism specifically included advocacy of women of color. In 1983, Walker coined the term “womanism” to mean “Black feminism”. The term was made to unite colored feminists under one term. She said, “Womanism” gives us a word of our own.”
In March 2009, Walker and 60 other female activists from the anti-war group Code Pink traveled to Gaza in response to the Gaza War. Their purpose was to deliver aid, to meet with NGOs and residents, and to persuade Israel and Egypt to open their borders with Gaza. She wrote about her meeting with an elderly Palestinian woman who upon accepting a gift from Walker said: “May God protect you from the Jews.” Walker responded, “It’s too late, I already married one,” referring to her former husband, a Jewish civil rights lawyer whom she had divorced in the 1970s.
In June 2013, Walker and others appeared in a video showing support for Chelsea Manning.
Today’s Action: What is your super power? Think about what is that you’re really good at, that’s especially unique to you. Imagine yourself as a super hero and this is your power. What is it?
Today’s Sharing: Draw a sketch or journal about your super power, the super hero you. Share your drawings or writings with us on the Holy Heretic Facebook page at facebook.com/holyhereticzine.
** Don’t forget your gratitude journal at the back of your print edition of HolyHeretic!
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