Gardening The Soul with Alice Walker

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It's no secret that a rich and happy life has little to do with material wealth. So how can we make the best of what we do have? Alice Walker offers a fresh look at how to live well in a complex culture. Her unique depth of perception is a gift that shows us new angles on everything from cocaine to Aunt Jemima to painting murals on the White House. We can escape the bleakness of our white-dominated cultural landscape, she insists, in a way that could make life better for everyone. She notes, for example, that "It's impossible not to be made happier if you alleviate suffering for anyone, or anything." This dialogue is brimming with inspiration for celebrating human life in all its colors and moments. (hosted by Michael Toms and Justine Willis Toms)


Alice Walker is the eighth child of Georgia sharecroppers. After a childhood accident blinded her in one eye, she went on to become valedictorian of her local school, and attended Spelman College and Sarah Lawrence College on scholarships, graduating in 1965. She won the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award for her novel The Color Purple, which was made in a movie by Steven Spielberg. She is also the author of three collections of short stories, three collections of essays, five volumes of poetry, and several children's books. Her works are heartful reminders of the strengths of family, community, self-worth, nature, and spirituality. 

Her novels include:

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • The main ingredients of happiness
  • How to "turn off the noise" in a noisy world
  • The Million Man March and Louis Farrakhan
  • The real meaning of Aunt Jemima
  • Why we should paint the White House
  • A synchronistic trip to Carl Jung's house
  • Why "There is more happiness in being harmless than in being harmful."
  • The joy of activism
Host: Justine & Michael Toms        Interview Date: 6/2/1997        Program Number: 2639