Alice Walker's Papers to Go to Emory

So, Emory scored Alice Walker’s papers earlier this week. That’s great news.

Alice Walker, Eatonton Native

You remember Alice Walker–author of The Color Purple, native of Eatonton, GA.

She and Joel Chandler Harris have led somewhat parallel lives–growing up in Eatonton, acheiving serious literary success early in their careers, having their work adapted into controversial films, having their papers housed at Emory, and so on.

You might be interested to know that Alice Walker didn’t (or doesn’t) think too highly of Joel Chandler Harris. In a speech delivered at the Atlanta History Center some twenty five years ago, she questioned his conscience:

I think I know why [Harris] did not read or tell these stories to his own children. I think I know why he never said them aloud to an audience. I think he understood what he was taking when he took those stories and when he created a creature to tell those stories.

I wonder if she still feels this way. After all, though they might have led parallel lives, her experience in Eatonton must have been vastly different than his.

In a somewhat similar vein, Steven Spielberg was, at the time, accused of not being qualified to relate the story of an African American woman for his adaptation of The Color Purple. His perspective wasn’t authentic enough for many people. Walker has since come to terms with it.

Another fairly recent edition to Emory’s Special Archives is Salman Rushdie, pictured below with Br’er Rabbit in Eatonton.

Rushdie and Brer Rabbit

Wouldn’t it be cool to host Sir Rushdie and Ms. Walker at the Wren’s Nest to talk about the Uncle Remus stories? Does anyone know how to do that?

Comments (8)

  • I think we work with either one of the AU Center schools (Spelman might work) and/or Emory to partner with this – We should sit down with them, and talk about what we want to do with this – I think they might be really interested – and it is something we might be able to get sponsorship for –

  • This is a fantastic idea.

    Was it Morehouse or Spelman that Oprah gave money too? We should reach out to whichever it was because with her book club and her ties to Alice Walker, I would think she would be very interested in this type of discussion. And since she gave money to the college then they probably know how to get in touch with her people to pitch the idea.

    We also need to get Emory involved since they are getting the papers and will probably know how to reach them both.

  • For sure! And I’m pretty sure Sir Rushdie is committed to spend about five or six weeks a year at Emory around January. Maybe the time is right. After all, 2008 is the 100 year anniversary of Joel Chandler Harris’ death.

  • I couldn’t say, Kassandra (nor does it really matter to me), but I believe the Wikipedia article has some information on that subject.

Comments are closed.

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