Author Rebecca Walker, daughter of writer Alice Walker who wrote “The Color Purple,” will speak at Cal Poly on Nov. 21.
Black, white and Jewish.
That’s the title of best-selling author Rebecca Walker’s memoir — and the story of her life.
The daughter of famed African-American writer Alice Walker (author of “The Color Purple”) and Jewish lawyer Mel Leventhal, Walker grew up as the daughter of a divorced, mixed-race couple in the South. This tangled upbringing led Walker to develop a strong point of view, which she has applied to fiction writing.
“She’s very honest and smart about situations in life, and it’s always inspiring to hear a writer talk honestly about life, even in the midst of writing fiction,” said associate professor Jody Lisberger, who was chosen as the 2013 Susan Currier Visiting Professorship for Teaching Excellence. “She really invites us to think about the growth that happens in crossing borders … She reveals the courage and insights that fluid motion allows a person.”
Walker — one of Time Magazine’s 50 most influential American leaders under 40 — will discuss race, gender, sexuality and more at a presentation titled “Writing Beyond Boundaries” on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the Warren J. Baker Center for Science and Mathematics (building 180), room 114.
The event is free and open to the public.
She will read from her memoir, “Black, White & Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self,” and her latest fiction novel, “Adé: A Love Story.” After, Walker will engage in a conversation with the audience.
The presentation, titled “Writing Beyond Boundaries,” is sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts’ Lottery Speakers Fund, Office of University Diversity and Inclusivity, women’s and gender studies, English, ethnic studies and history departments, Writers Collective and Robert E. Kennedy Library.
First, though, Walker will join Lisberger’s WGS 470 “Crossing Borders: Women Writing Their Lives” class.
“We talk a lot about the way women cross borders, whether the borders of their lives or their writing styles, if they are, for instance disrupting traditional narratives to tell their story,” Lisberger said. “Rebecca is very much somebody who, for one thing, being black, white and Jewish, has crossed borders and had phenomenal experiences. Cal Poly prides itself on Learn By Doing, and this is a marvelous experience for students in the class to sit with a promising writer and learn from her.”