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Posted on Mon, Sep 9, 2013 : 7:01 p.m.

After disinvitation, Alice Walker accepts a second speaking invitation from the University of Michigan

By Kellie Woodhouse

Alice Walker, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple, has accepted an invitation to speak at the University of Michigan next fall.


AP Photo

She'll give the biannual Zora Neale Hurston Lecture for the department of Afroamerican and African studies at Hill Auditorium on Nov. 5, 2014.

The invitation isn't the first Walker received from the Ann Arbor school.

She was invited to be the keynote speaker at the Center for the Education for Women's 50th anniversary in early 2014, but CEW officials withdrew that invitation.

"We are pleased to confirm that Alice Walker has accepted our invitation to speak on the U-M campus," CEW director Gloria Thomas wrote in an email. "She is retuning [sic] at the invitation of the department of Afroamerican and African studies and the Center for the Education of Women."

On her blog, Walker said giving the lecture would be a "a lovely turn of events."

"I accept your invitation to visit with you in the coming year: I believe we have all learned something from our efforts to reach out to one another, and I believe also that - if solar flares or deeply unintelligent wars haven’t carried us off - it will be a good time," Walker wrote in a letter to the university that she posted on her blog.

In a memo posted on the CEW's website in August, Thomas said Walker wasn't the right fit for the celebratory nature of the anniversary event, although Walker posted on her blog that her agent was told Walker was uninvited due to a donor's objection of her outspoken criticism of Israel.

The incident gained national attention and sparked concern about academic freedom on U-M's campus.

A faculty governance committee drafted a resolution that voiced concern "about the potential damage done to the reputation" of the university by the disinvitation. U-M Provost Martha Pollack sent a notice to faculty affirming U-M's commitment to academic freedom and denying a donor urged the disinvitation. In the note on the center's website, Thomas apologized for the way the center handled the incident.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.


Free Human

Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 9:33 p.m.

Kellie, can you FOIA UM records and find the truth for us.

Eduard Copely

Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 4:47 p.m.

Money always wins.

Tim Hornton

Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 1:51 p.m.

Ahhh back to real work I see Leaders and Best Ed reporter. I can't wait to hear what this anti Jew "scholar" has to say. Israel is the only country in the middle east with human rights and equal rights for women but this speaker wants it to not exist.. What happened to COEXIST lol.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 11:20 a.m.

Let's put a band-aid on the wound but we should not look too closely at whether or not the University lives up to its academic prinicples.

Michigan Man

Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 1:17 a.m.

Guess her speaking schedule is a little light + few open dates.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 12:53 a.m.

If the commenters could have an ounce of her grace....

Tim Hornton

Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 1:47 p.m.

Or her hate for Israel?

Colorado Sun

Mon, Sep 9, 2013 : 11:45 p.m.

"..........her agent was told Walker was uninvited due to a donor's objection of her outspoken criticism of Israel...." University of Michigan employees should not be going around telling the REAL reasons such brush-offs may occur. They should be instructed to fabricate a plausible "cover story" to avoid controversies such as this one. Secondly, do not ask such persons to come back - put them on a blacklist. Thirdly, consult with local Israel Lobby representatives to ensure beforehand that the prospective invitee may not offend local donor sensibilities. After all these donors lavish "big bucks" on the university. A recipe for success!

Lyn Barron

Wed, Sep 11, 2013 : 3:39 a.m.

I forgot to mention that I did NOT sue the hospital for my mother's death. I would not have started any suits except I do not want what happened to me to happen to anyone else. My house was foreclosed on- ruined my credit and my then 21 yr. old son's credit because he was also on the house.He could not even buy a car to go to college or work. If the employees ever tell the REAL reasons for what happens there, in my opinion, they would probably be out of a job.

Lyn Barron

Wed, Sep 11, 2013 : 3:31 a.m.

I am going to 'annoy' someone for bringing this up but....I think what Colorado Sun said happened to me. I was upset about my mother being wrongfully discharged from the hospital and died that eve or in the early morn. I complained to one of the doctors about it. Not too long afterwards I went on a leave and when I returned to my RN position- I had to work as an aide instead (worked since 1986 as a RN,BSN). After about a year of working as an aide I asked the UM recruiter why I did not get my job as a RN back. She said because I was going to sue the hospital for my Mother's death. My Mom died in 1998 and I still worked as a RN well into 2001. Another incident similar to my Mother's occurred and I had to go on that leave I referred to. Did the hospital tell that RN to say that is why I did not get my job back? Is lying better than being accused of discrimination?

Basic Bob

Mon, Sep 9, 2013 : 11:54 p.m.

Fourth, put a stipulation on the contract that she can accept the gig as long she refrains from mentioning anything about US/Zionist hegemony in the Middle East or global thermonuclear war.

Jack Gladney

Mon, Sep 9, 2013 : 11:38 p.m.

"...or deeply unintelligent wars haven't carried us off - it will be a good time," That's not a very nice way to refer to the smartest man ever to reside at 1600. Maybe she thinks that Bush is still president..

Jack Gladney

Wed, Sep 11, 2013 : 1:48 a.m.

Smart Nobel Peace Prize Laureates start the best wars. After all, 0rwell taught us that War is Peace.


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 5:37 p.m.

Even smart men apparently like to start wars. Bummer.