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American Masters | Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth

Watch Friday, February 7, 2014 at 9pm on WMHT TV.

Writer/activist Alice Walker (b. Feb. 9, 1944) made history as the first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her seminal novel The Color Purple (1982), for which she won the National Book Award. Filmmaker Pratibha Parmar’s new documentary tells Walker’s dramatic life story with poetry and lyricism, and features new interviews with Walker, Steven Spielberg, Danny Glover, Quincy Jones, Gloria Steinem, Sapphire and the late Howard Zinn in one of his final interviews.

American MastersAlice Walker: Beauty in Truth charts Walker’s inspiring journey from her birth into a family of sharecroppers in Eatonton, Ga. to the present. The film explores Walker’s relationship with her mother, poverty, and participation in the Civil Rights Movement, which were the formative influences on her consciousness and became the inherent themes in her writing. Living through the violent racism and seismic social changes of mid-20th century America, Walker overcame adversity to achieve international recognition as one of the most influential — and controversial — writers of the 20th century. Delving into her personal life, Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth reveals the inspiration for many of her works, including Once (1968), The Third Life of Grange Copeland (1970), Meridian (1976), The Color Purple (1982), In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens (1983), Possessing the Secret of Joy (1992) and Overcoming Speechlessness (2010).

Praised and pilloried, Walker has driven people to express joy as well as anger and ruthless vilification over her art, personal views and global human rights advocacy. As seen in the film, Yoko Ono awarded her the 2010 LennonOno Peace Award for her ongoing humanitarian work. American Masters analyzes these aspects of the self-confessed renegade’s life and career.

“As a filmmaker, one of the deepest desires is to engage the audience in the conversation unfolding on screen. I am thrilled to offer this in Beauty In Truth, where Alice’s openness, warmth and on-screen intimacy reflects our long history of kinship,” said Parmar. “Making Beauty In Truth has been an adventure of discovery and sheer inspiration. I’m so pleased it will have a national audience on American Masters.” Parmar’s past works include feature film Nina’s Heavenly Delights (2006) and the documentary Warrior Marks (1993), based on the book of the same name that she and Walker co-authored.

Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth is a complex exploration of a pioneering artist and human rights activist that gives audiences a penetrating look at a life lived with passionate commitment,” said Stephen Segaller, vice president of programming for WNET. “Having the American Masters premiere coincide with her 70th birthday is a nice bonus.”

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