The Jane and Harry Willson Center for Humanities and Arts will welcome Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker to UGA as the holder of the inaugural Delta Visiting Chair for Global Understanding Oct. 14-15.
Walker will hold public speaking events on and off campus, as well as participate in more personal interactions with students and faculty during her visit.
The Delta Visiting Chair, established by the Willson Center through the support of the Delta Air Lines Foundation, hosts outstanding global scholars, creative thinkers, artists and intellectuals who teach and perform research at UGA. It is founded upon the legacy of the Delta Prize for Global Understanding, which from 1997-2011 was presented to individuals-including Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev, Ted Turner, Desmond Tutu and Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter-whose initiatives promoted world peace by advancing understanding and cooperation among cultures and nations.
A native of Eatonton and a member of the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame, Walker will speak Oct. 14 at the Chapel and Oct. 15 at the Morton Theatre in downtown Athens. Details on these and other events taking place during her visit will be announced in the coming months.
“The University of Georgia is a global public research university, and we are honored to welcome one of the major figures of modern literature to the campus to connect with our community of students, faculty and citizens of all ages,” said Nicholas Allen, Franklin Professor of English and director of the Willson Center. “Alice Walker transformed the cultural imagination of Georgia and made its stories part of a world conversation about belonging, memory and the power of the human imagination to persevere and flourish.”
Walker is the first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for her 1982 novel The Color Purple, which also earned a National Book Award. She has written six other novels, four collections of short stories, four children’s books and volumes of essays and poetry.
Her first collection of poetry, Once, was published in 1968, followed by her first novel, The Third Life of Grange Copeland, in 1970. Throughout her public life, she has been an international activist for civil and human rights and a forceful advocate for women and girls.
Walker offered a personal message to the UGA and Athens communities: “This gathering at the historic University of Georgia offers a unique and splendid opportunity for the Southern community from which I come to gather for a time of introduction, contemplation and learning.
“It has been half a century since I lived in Georgia, yet my roots here remain, as does my interest in, and concern for, all the people of this region,” she added. “As a writer, my early work is drenched in the ambiance of the South; those who have read my poetry, or short stories…will find more than a trace of my absorbed attention to the lives of Southerners in this area.”
Each holder of the Delta Visiting Chair will engage the Georgia community through lectures, seminars, discussions and programs; they will present global problems in local context by addressing pressing contemporary questions about the economy, society and the environment-with a focus on how the arts and humanities can intervene in major contemporary issues.