The “Black Power Heals” series exploring how our Southern Black freedom fighters from both past and present found peace and joy. You can click here to read more about how Black Southern women incorporated self-care techniques like yoga and meditation into their activism. Also, take a minute to check out and join the Black Magic Project’s Facebook page where we celebrate and discuss Black culture and community.
Famously known as the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Color Purple,” healing, peace, wellness and joy saturate the poetry and prose of author and activist Alice Walker. While she was born in Georgia, Walker spent a great deal of time as an activist and educator in Mississippi in the late 1960s.
Dr. Stephanie Y. Evans, professor and director of the Institute for Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Georgia State University, named Walker as one the most prominent Southern practitioners of inner peace in her book “Black Women’s Yoga History: Memoirs of Inner Peace.”
In Walker’s book, “We Are The Ones We Have Been Waiting For: Inner Light In A Time of Darkness,” Walker writes that she learned her first yoga poses from a children’s book while living in “sadist-filled” Mississippi. She nurtured her yoga skills by practicing with multiple yoga instructors throughout her life. Walker compares Black people to orchids: rare and common. Fragile and strong. Exotic and plain. Beautiful and gorgeous.
“That is why yoga and meditation are so essential,” Walker writes. “In order to free ourselves we must listen to many harrowing tales that our people, for their own health and sanity, must share with us. Knowing what happened to our ancestors’ lives is the only way we can begin deconstruction of the dysfunction in our own…”
Walker credits the Chinese philosophy of Taoism for expanding her knowledge in meditation in her 2013 book “The Cushion in the Road.” Evans notes that Walker presents multiple vignettes that illustrate her meditation journey. The vignettes range from the peacefulness of gardening in the morning to the jarring nature of being tear gassed in Gaza. Through these moments, Walker shows how solitude and quiet wasn’t a requirement for meditation.
“In short, Walker experiences meditation as living action, not simply a solitary, quiet, motionless moment,” Evans said in chapter seven of her book. “Whether writing in a sunroom, during early morning’s shared silence, or walking life’s journey, Black women’s reflections of meditation involve enhancing mindfulness in every moment and location of life.”