It?s been more than four decades since Alice Walker wedded a Jewish man to form what was then the first interracial married couple living in Mississippi.
The year was 1967 and ?we actually got married in New York, but the anti?miscegenation laws were against people being married in Mississippi, interracially,? Walker remembers. ?We were illegal and we were very happy about it.?
In 1983, the already prolific poet-novelist would turn heads again as the first black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the National Book Award, both for ?The Color Purple.?
These days, at 65 ? an age she?s christened ?the new 50? ? she?s still pushing for change. In March, she visited Gaza with the anti-war group Code Pink to document first-hand the suffering among battle-worn Palestinians. Last month, she was one of several artists who signed a letter objecting to an Israeli film salute at the Toronto Film Festival. She also recently traveled to Burma to protest the imprisonment of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Over the years, she?s dared to speak out against female genital mutilation, Rwandan genocide and the shortage of support for African orphanages.
Her undying activism spans the globe, a life?s passion she documents in her ?living book? at www.alicewalkersblog.com.
?I love blogging,? the Georgia native says. ?I find it so freeing. It suits me. I?m an Aquarius person and this is our time, when ideas can just go right through the air, direct, and you don?t have to wait a year for it to be published.?
Before Walker appears in Healdsburg this weekend at a benefit for the Margaret Okari Foundation, a Kenyan school that educates orphans who are affected by AIDS, she took time to talk about the plight of those who suffer needlessly, a new collection of poetry and what inspired her to settle in Northern California:
Q: What?s your daily ritual like?
A: I like to wake up and write in the morning, but I hang out with a musician (trumpeter Garrett Larson) and musicians keep such weird hours.
Q: Musicians aren?t really morning people, are they?
A: No, but I like the morning for myself and I do my best work then because my mind is clearer.
Q: Are you still in Berkeley?
A: I?m calling you from Mendocino. I live on a little farm outside of Philo, back up in the hills. I just got some chickens and so that?s why I?m here. I can?t bear to leave them. I try to spend half the year in Philo and then I spend a good bit of time in Mexico in the winter. I love the heat. I?m not good with the cold.
Q: How did you wind up settling in Northern California back in the ?70s?
A: I was trying to find a place to write ?The Color Purple? and it was very much like carrying an egg that I needed to lay. My partner then, who already lived in San Francisco, and I drove all over this part of the state, from Yosemite all the way up to Covelo, looking for the right place. We drove through here and I saw this little black boy who looked happy and I knew it was a good sign. So we stopped right there and went in and got a paper and found a place to rent.