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Lessons for Women's History Month

Lesson Guide: Introduction and Biography

In honor of Women’s History Month, this lesson focuses on the celebrated author of The Color Purple, Alice Walker, and her essay “Am I Blue?” The essay raises interesting questions about animal communication and the treatment of animals—issues that will be explored through this lesson.

Ask students to read Alice Walker’s essay “Am I Blue?” then ask them to share personal stories about animal communication. For example, you might ask students to explain how they know when their animal companions are happy, scared, bored, lonely, or ill.

Ask students if they have heard of Alice Walker. Invite those who know of her to share their knowledge with the class, then tell them more about Walker by using the following brief biography and the links below.

A Brief Biography of Alice Walker
Alice Walker was born in the segregated Georgia town of Eatonton in 1944, the eighth child of two sharecroppers. When she was 8 years old, her older brother accidentally shot her in the eye—blinding her. Despite her disability, she became the valedictorian of her high school and earned a bachelor of arts degree from Sarah Lawrence College. After college, Walker started the publishing company Wild Trees Press.

Her experiences led to her passion for justice, which is woven throughout her prolific writing and reflected in her life choices. She is a champion of women, people of color, and animals. In her book In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens, she coined the term “womanism,” which helped give a voice to the unique concerns of black women in the women’s movement. She was active in the civil rights movement of the 1960s and continues to be an activist for people of color today.

Walker also feels deep empathy for animals. In fact, she feels animal emotions so keenly that she often relates her own experiences with discrimination to the way that animals are commonly treated. She wrote the preface to Marjorie Spiegel’s book The Dreaded Comparison: Human and Animal Slavery, which compares the historical enslavement of black people to the modern-day treatment of animals.

Learn more about Alice Walker by clicking on the following links:

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