More Black History Month

by Jessica Reppert

To continue our Black History Month celebration of African-American authors, this week we’re going to spotlight Alice Walker and Frederick Douglass.

Let’s start with a “Happy Birthday” to Alice Walker, who will be celebrating her 68th year on February 9th! Born in the countryside near Ward’s Chapel, Georgia, Walker was blinded in her right eye at age 8 by her brother, Curtis, and his BB gun while playing their favorite game, Cowboys and Indians. When she went to college, first at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, Walker quickly became involved in the Civil Rights Movement. It didn’t take long for her to transfer to Sarah Lawrence where she excelled as a writer and in 1967 her first work of fiction was published, “To Hell with Dying.”

Novelist, poet, short story writer, essayist, anthologist, teacher, editor, publisher, womanist, activist, filmmaker, and more, Alice Walker has laid her mark on the World. Some of her more popular works include:

  • “The Color Purple” (1982)
  • “The Third Life of Grange Copeland” (1970)
  • “Warrior Marks” (1993 – Documentary)
  • “By the Light of My Father’s Smile” (1998)
  • “A Poem Traveled Down My Arm” (2003)
  • “Overcoming Speechlessness” (2010)

For more information on Alice Walker, a complete list of her writing and other work, and other photos, videos, and interviews, go to

Frederick Douglass is not to be forgotten, though, as he is thought to have been born in Febrary, 1818. Douglass lived a hard life. He was born into slavery in Tuckahoe, Maryland, and was separated from his mother as an infant. One interesting thing about Douglass is that he had a white father whom he never knew. As a young boy and teen, Douglass had to find and earn his own education from other boys on the streets because slaves were not granted that privilege.  Douglass started his autobiography in 1845, but it would not be published until many years later. At a young age he earned enough money to buy his freedom and started his own anti-slavery newspaper, the North Star, published in Rochester, New York, from 1847-1860. Douglass finally revised and published his autobiography as Life and Times of Frederick Douglass in 1882. Douglass is most well known as the first black citizen to hold high rank in the U.S. government and being a consultant to Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.

For more information, photos, and videos on Frederick Douglass, you can visit his page on

As always, come check out some of Alice Walker’s books, or Frederick Douglass’s autobiography at Rohrbach Library.

Check out the catalog to see what’s checked-in: Library Catalog.

Another cool place for information on Alice Walker and Frederick Douglass is Films on Demand.

Credit for image of Frederick Douglass to the Frederick Douglass Institute at KU.


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