February 9

Alice Walker

February 9, 1944 - Eatonton, Atlanta

She was born in Eatonton in 1944 and at age 8 she was blinded in one eye by a BB gun fired by her brother, a traumatic event that crippled her self-confidence. She was eventually homecoming queen and valedictorian at Butler-Baker High School. But it was Alice Walker’s searing literary portraits of African-American life and culture in poetry, short stories, and novels that brought her international fame.

Walker attended Spelman College in Atlanta, was active in the civil rights movement, and graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in New York, where her writing was first nurtured. Walker published her first short story, “To Hell With Dying,” at age 23 in a collection edited by Langston Hughes. Her landmark 1982 novel, The Color Purple, earned her the first Pulitzer Prize in fiction won by an African-American woman. The book was adapted into a 1985 film by Steven Spielberg and a Broadway musical in 2004.

One of the great writers in the female African-American literary renaissance was born in Eatonton on February 9, 1944, Today in Georgia History.