Earl Lectures 1986 - Alice Walker

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Alice Walker

"I encountered Everything That Rises Must Converge while reading Flannery O’Connor, one of my favorite writers from the American South. It is the title of one of her books.  She was quoting Teilhard de Chardin, a Catholic priest. In my own life this expression has rung quite true, though the meaning I make of it may be different than theirs. 

Everything I have ever worked for, rising regardless of circumstances to do my best, has led eventually to the lives of other people who are also rising – sometimes against even greater odds than mine.  Embracing this reality removes fear of striking out and upward.  Everyone you truly wish to encounter will be there when you arrive (you will realize you have been rising together though on separate continents, perhaps, or even during separate centuries!) or will appear shortly thereafter.

There is much joy and celebration whenever we converge, i.e. meet each other. The spirits we knew.  The faces we did not. Usually."

- Alice Walker, 2010, from her website here

Listen to Lectures:

The 1986 Earl Lectures were a three-day discussion on the theme "Christianity and the Arts." On January 30, Alice Walker gave a lecture discussing poetry, history, and the strength required to rise up from oppression. Listen to her Lecture here.


    Poet, short story writer, novelist, essayist, anthologist, teacher, editor, publisher, womanist and activist, Alice Malsenior Walker was born at home on February 9, 1944, near Eatonton, Georgia. She is the eighth and last child of Willie Lee Walker and Minnie Lou Tallulah Grant Walker. In 1994, Walker changed her middle name to Tallulah-Kate, in honor of her maternal great-grandmother, the African-Cherokee ancestor Tallulah Calloway, and of Kate Nelson, her paternal grandmother.

    Walker is a prolific writer in multiple genres. Her fiction, in particular her novels, have established her as a canonical figure in American letters, as well as a major figure in what scholars term the renaissance in African American women’s writings of the 1970s. She is the winner of the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her novel The Color Purple (she was the first African American woman writer to receive this award) and the National Book Award.

    Walker is a teacher and an activist as well as an author. Her writings have been translated into more than two dozen languages, and her books have sold more than fifteen million copies. Along with the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, Walker’s awards and fellowships include a Guggenheim Fellowship and a residency at Yaddo.

    Alice Walker 1986
    Above: Alice Walker at the 1986 Earl Lectures. Photo by Bruce Cook.
    Below: An excerpt from the PSR's Bulletin, Winter 1986. Click the image to read the Bulletin's feature story on the 1986 Lectures,
    Walker in the Winter 1986 PSR Bulletin


    The poetry of Alice Walker (at her official website)
    "We Live in the Best of All Times" - Interview with Alice Walker in Shambhala Sun
    Alice Walker: Reflections on Working Towards Peace