Key Writer of the 20th Century Alice Walker

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She was active in the civil rights movement and fought for equality of African Americans. She wrote during a time where there werefew black writers. It was during a time where whites and blacks were segregated. Alice Walker’s, mother was her muse when it came to writing her book “In Search of our Mother’s Garden.’ Alice believes she got many gifts from her mother like her creativity and bravery. Alice always brings up how that creativity (not just from her mother, but from her ancestors, and all the other black women that lived during slavery) was passed on and kept alive.

For years, black women were denied singing their songs, writing their poems, and deprived of their dreams.

Alice writes about how the poet Jean Toomer visited the South in the early twenties and saw how the black women were filled with so much richness, and potential they themselves didn’t even know they were encompassed with. Alice described that “They stumbled blindly through their lives: creatures so abused and mutilated in body, so dimmed and confused by pain, that they considered themselves unworthy of hope” (1182).

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She goes on to say how men are taking these women and using them simply for their own sexual intentions. These women were ‘becoming’ these different things against their own will. Men bent them to their own will, and these women were being transformed into objects. Walker articulates the problem that African-American women face in not being able to express their creativity. Alice refers to these women as “Saints.

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’ but not in the way you would take it. These poor women were being worshipped in an objective way by men.

These women’s beings were being pushed down so far, that they lost their identities. Alice says “Instead of being perceived as whole persons, their bodies became shrines” (1182). Further, their bodies becoming these shrines have dehumanized them. Alice says that these were “our mothers and our grandmothers.” To Jean Toomer he described them as “exquisite butterflies trapped in evil honey, toiling their lives in an era, a century, that did not acknowledge them, except as ‘the mule of the world'(1182). There is a line between what these women should be recognized for, their humanity, and creative minds, and what they were actually being taken for, their bodies and sex. Women are, in the end, dehumanized. So how did the mothers and grandmothers in the 20th century and even before keep their creativity alive? Walker asks, “how was the creativity of the black woman kept alive, year after year and century after a century when for most of the year’s black people have been in America, it was a punishable crime for a black person to read or write?” (1183). When you look at this perspective, it is hard to understand how black women managed to keep their creativity alive for so long when they had few rights.

Although African American women were devoted to their family and being a housewife, some women slowly broke out of this norm. In the 1700s, Phillis Wheatley was a slave woman who creatively established herself by writing. She wrote about the communities of black and white and used kind words to describe the whites she worked for. Some African Americans thought, ‘her loyalties were divided,’ and then when she wrote with admiration about the white community, she rejected her own heritage. In reality, Walker thinks that fact that she even wrote poems was amazing. Wheatley was still devoted to her housework, but she gave her mind the opportunity to explore. One of the first ways African American women were independent was using their minds. As a slave, Wheatley took a great risk in learning to read and write, but she opened the doors to educate other slaves. ‘It’s not so much what you sang, as you kept the notion of the song alive in so many of our forebears’ (1185). It didn’t matter so much what she wrote about, it matters that she wrote, in times when a black woman “creating” was unheard of. “The notion of the song,” is to keep creativity alive in the African American community. By beginning to write, Wheatley was able to show that slaves in America were able to break the stereotype that African American women were unintelligent.

By exploring the artistic world with writing, she was able to show other African American women that using their minds would allow them to feel more in control of their lives. “The notion of the song’ is to keep the African American community’s creativity alive. Wheatley was able to show by actually writing, that slaves in America could break the misconception that African American women were unintelligent. She was able to show other African American women that using their minds would simply allow feeling more in control of their lives. Over the years, regardless of the disadvantages African Americans had, they kept their creativity and strength for their skill sets and carried them into our society today. The strong mindsets they had helped them pass on this creativity into future generations. Alice Walker was one of many to record African Americans unique ingenuity. Their heritage of love and strength guided them to keep their creativity alive.

Cite this page

Key Writer of the 20th Century Alice Walker. (2022, Jan 27). Retrieved from

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