The Intrepid Awards, July 10, 2003, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.

Rebecca Walker

Rebecca Walker
Rebecca Walker

An author and activist, Rebecca Walker publishes widely and is the co-founder of the Third Wave Foundation, the only national, activist, philanthropic organization for young women aged 15-30.

Born in 1969 in Jackson, Mississippi to parents deeply committed to the Civil Rights Movement, she has continued the work of her parents. Her mother, Alice Walker, would become a Pulitzer Prize winning writer, and her father, Mel Leventhal, would continue his work as a Civil Rights lawyer seeking equal protection for all people. In her most recent book, "Black White and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self," Rebecca writes poignantly about the challenges and blessings of growing up biracial. While some saw her birth in the segregated South as "an outrage and an oddity," others saw it as "a symbol of harmony and the triumph of love over hate." This was her legacy to reconcile.

Her parents divorced when she was a child, and Walker grew up in San Francisco and New York City, moving back and forth between California and New York every two years. After high school, she attended Yale University and graduated Cum Laude in May 1992.

After college, she founded Third Wave Direct Action Corporation, a national non-profit organization devoted to cultivating young women's leadership and activism. In their first summer, Third Wave initiated an historic emergency youth drive that registered over 20,000 new voters in inner cities across the United States. In 1998, this organization became the Third Wave Foundation.

Her message of positive activism is delivered through her speaking, organizing, and writing. She began writing in high school, and in college became a contributing editor to Ms. Magazine, discussing the issues of reproductive freedom, domestic violence, and sexuality. She has been published in many magazines, and is widely anthologized.

Her work is a declaration of the power of young women to create their own lives and shape their own vision for the future. She speaks for a generation that has a different vantage point on the world than their parents—a generation whose lives will span much of the 21st century, a generation that will face 21st century problems and need to be able create 21st century solutions.

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