Walker, daughter of famed author of "The Color Purple"
Alice Walker, was affected more by her parents' races than
their fame. Her father, Mel Leventhal, was a civil rights
lawyer. He was also white and Jewish, while her mother was
her book, "Black, White and Jewish Autobiography
of a Shifting Self," Rebecca Walker gives readers an
intimate look at the life of a little girl being raised
by politically active parents during the Civil Rights movement.
She will read from her book 8 p.m. Monday in Austin Peay
State University's Trahern Theater.
the beginning of their marriage, Walker's parents were a
symbol of freedom, of rebellion against racism. Later, as
Black Power arose, her mother's union with "the oppressor"
became suspect, and Rebecca began to question not only who
she was, but how she could exist.
my own life means knowing that everything can look one way
from the outside, but there is always another story to be
told," she writes in the book.
writes fully, convincingly, from the point of view of herself
at age five, at age eight, age 12. She surrounds the reader
in rich detail, noting the knee-high suede boots her father's
girlfriend wore as her parents' marriage fell apart, the
smell of her mother's belly as they hugged goodbye, and
the texture of the green paint peeling from the walls as
her dad relaxed in the bathtub, on the last day she saw
an interview conducted by e-mail while on the road for her
book tour, Walker explains how she is able to bring back
such vivid minutia from 25 and 30 years in history.
think that certain experiences are etched into our psyches
and stay there awaiting resolution," Walker says.
"I decided as I wrote 'BWJ' to be open to seeing
and hearing all of those experiences again as a way to begin
to let them go. Practically, I invited the memories, and
often wrote in a dead heat as the images, smells and sounds
flooded my brain."
scenes in the book are critical of her parents' lack of
understanding of the pain and loss she felt. But Walker
says her mother and father gave her much for which she is
life, my education, my belief that social transformation
is possible," she says. "Even when they
were fairly clueless about my needs as a young mixed race
child of divorce, I always felt loved."
passionate in their own beliefs, her parents never forced
them on her.
parents also gave me spiritual and intellectual freedom,"
she says. "Because they left me alone to discover
my own mind, I had a clean slate where many people have
inherited beliefs that end up dictating their lives."
Walker has a new perspective on parenting, as mother of
a newborn son.
had no idea it was possible to love another human being
so much," she says. "His first smile, the
way he watches me move around a room, the miracle of his
perfect little body. I feel that I more deeply understand
the human experience because of our relationship. So far,
this miracle is my greatest joy."
was named by "Time Magazine" as one of 50 influential
American leaders under forty. Susan Wallace, editorial assistant
APSU's literary magazine, says Walker has quite a reputation
as an activist.
of her activism and her interesting heritage," Wallace
says, "I think she will have a broad appeal to (people
who are) African American, white, Jewish, and others who
find themselves struggling with their identity."