Novelist Alice Walker: ’Dance when you feel like dancing’

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Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Walker (center), a novelist, poet and activist, spoke with Ra Malika Imhotep (left), a Ph.D. candidate in African diaspora studies at UC Berkeley, and Darieck Scott, a professor in Berkeley’s Department of African American Studies, as part of the department’s spring 2021 Critical Conversations series. ( Graphic by Jacquelyn Serrano )

"I think that part of why we are lost is that we’ve forgotten we have to study where we’ve come from and what we’re doing,” said novelist Alice Walker at a campus event last month. "And I just can’t stress enough how much I want our people - all people, but, you know, our people - to really get a grip on how you have to understand where you’ve been in order to know where you are or where you’re going.”

Walker, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1983 for her novel, The Color Purple, was in conversation on Feb. 15, 2021, with Ra Malika Imhotep, a Ph.D. candidate in African diaspora studies at UC Berkeley, and Darieck Scott, a professor in Berkeley’s Department of African American Studies, as part of the department’s spring 2021 Critical Conversations series.

Walker’s parting advice?

"Study, be free, enjoy your life, dance when you feel like dancing, sleep outside under the moon … Live your life. Live it. I don’t care if every time you open your mouth, somebody’s ready to throw something at you or trip you up or lie about you. The joy of being here, I think, only comes if you are really here as you.”

Listen to the full conversation in Berkeley Talks episode #109: "Novelist Alice Walker: ’Dance when you feel like dancing.’”

Watch a video of the conversation on the Department of African American Studies website.

See upcoming events in the spring 2021 Critical Conversations series.

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