An Evening With 'The Color Purple' Author Alice Walker

The Pulitzer Prize winner comes to New Rochelle to discuss her latest works, social division, and what inspires her.

When Alice Walker came to Westchester a few months ago, it was only fitting that she would be a guest speaker at New Rochelle High School, where, along with the Huguenot, the school mascot is the purple wave. Recently, the 1983 National Book Award winner and author of The Color Purple gracefully danced her way onstage to the beat of African drums before sitting down to a moderated conversation with Traci “Dr. Tea” Alexander, of Women’s Enterprise Development Center (WEDC) in the Whitney Young Auditorium.

During the event, which supported WEDC’s entrepreneurial training programs and services, Walker spoke to a captivated audience of students and residents alike about her new bilingual collection of poems, Taking the Arrow Out of the Heart, as well as about race relations and how to succeed despite obstacles.

“Anything you can do is good, I think, to bring people together because it’s our division that hurts us. We all know this.”

The Sarah Lawrence College alumna explained that she wrote Taking the Arrow Out of the Heart (Simon & Schuster, October 2018) in English and Spanish to improve her bilingual skills and that the meaning of the book was steeped in Buddhist tradition. “The idea is that we are all shot at one time or another in the heart…. It’s about healing your own trauma. It’s about taking the arrow out of your own heart.”

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In addition to the conversation with Alexander, Walker answered questions from students, who asked her about everything from community divisiveness to her inspirations for writing. When asked how society should come together in these turbulent times, the activist encouraged dialogue.

“Anything you can do is good, I think, to bring people together because it’s our division that hurts us. We all know this.”

When asked what inspired her to write as a form of implementing change, Walker explained that she suffered a lot and that writing spurred her on. “We have to believe that where we are is so amazing and that…everything is possible.”

She added that it is necessary to find what spurs you on in life. “I think about life as this place where you have your own little stone. It’s not even a very pretty stone, just a rock. You’re putting that rock on the ground in the shape of an altar; you’re making an altar out of your little stone. Every time you accomplish something worthy of this universe, you put your little stone there. For me, writing was putting my little stone there.” She advised, “Keep going. [Writing] is something that writes back to you.”

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