For other people named Rebecca Walker, see Rebecca Walker (disambiguation).

Rebecca Walker (born November 17, 1969) is an American writer. In 1994, Time named her as one of the 50 future leaders of America.[1]

Early life

Walker was born Rebecca Leventhal in Jackson, Mississippi, the daughter of Alice Walker, the African-American author of The Color Purple, and Mel Leventhal, a Jewish American lawyer.[2] After her parents divorced, she spent her childhood alternating every two years between her father's home in the largely Jewish Riverdale section of the Bronx in New York City and her mother's largely African-American environment in San Francisco, where she attended The Urban School of San Francisco. When she was 15, she decided to change her surname from Leventhal to Walker, her mother's surname. Rebecca identifies herself as Black White and Jewish, which is also the title of her memoir, published in 2001.[3]

Education and career

After graduating cum laude from Yale University in 1992, she co-founded the Third Wave Foundation, a non-profit organization aiming to encourage young women to get involved in activism and leadership roles. In its first year, the organization initiated a campaign that registered over 20,000 new voters across the United States. The organization now provides grants to individuals and projects that support young women.

Walker was a contributing editor to Ms. magazine for many years. Her work has appeared in a number of publications, including Harper's, Essence, Glamour, Interview, Buddhadharma, Vibe, Child, and Mademoiselle magazines. She has been featured on CNN and MTV, and has appeared in The New York Times, Chicago Times, Esquire, Shambhala Sun, among many other publications. She also had a role in the film Primary Colors.

Walker has received several awards for her work, including the Women of Distinction Award from the American Association of University Women,[4] "Feminist of the Year" award from the Fund for the Feminist Majority, the "Paz y Justicia" award from the Vanguard Public Foundation, the "Intrepid Award" from the National Organization for Women,[5] the "Champion of Choice" award from the California Abortion Rights Action League and the "Women Who Could Be President Award" from the League of Women Voters. Walker spends much of her time speaking about (her) multicultural identity, enlightened masculinity and intergenerational and third-wave feminism at universities and conferences around the world. She also teaches writing workshops and consults on non-fiction manuscripts.

Walker is the author of four books, To Be Real: Telling the Truth and Changing the Face of Feminism; Black, White and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self; What Makes A Man: 22 Writers Imagine the Future and her latest, Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence.[6] She is currently working on a third anthology, One Big Happy Family: 18 Writers Talk About Polyamory, Open Adoption, Mixed Marriage, Househusbandry, Single Motherhood, and Other Realities of Truly Modern Love.

In 2013 Walker published her first novel Adé: A Love Story. In March 2014 it was announced that the film rights had been optioned with Madonna directing.[7]

Walker is featured in The Advocate's "Forty under 40" issue of June/July 2009 as one of the most influential out media professionals.[8]

Work as a feminist

Walker first emerged as a prominent feminist in 1992 at age 22 when she wrote an article for Ms. titled "Becoming the Third Wave".[9] In her article, Walker criticizes the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas after he was accused of sexually harassing Anita Hill, an attorney he supervised during his time at the Department of Education and the EEOC. Using this example, Walker addresses the oppression of the female voice and introduces the concept of Third Wave Feminism. Walker defines third wave feminism at the end of the article by saying “To be a feminist is to integrate an ideology of equality and female empowerment into the very fiber of life. It is to search for personal clarity in the midst of systemic destruction, to join in sisterhood with women when often we are divided, to understand power structures with the intention of challenging them.”[10]

After she surfaced within the feminist community, Walker was an integral part in founding the Third Wave Fund. The organization’s initial mission, based on Walker’s article, was to “fill a void in young women’s leadership and to mobilize young people to become more involved socially and politically in their communities.”[11] The fund was turned into a foundation in 1997 and still continues to support young activists.

In 1997, Walker compiled and edited the book To be Real: Telling the Truth and Changing the Face of Feminism. “The twenty-three contributors in To Be Real offer varied perspectives and experiences that challenge our stereotypes of feminist beliefs as they negotiate the troubled waters of gender roles, identity politics and "power feminism".[12] The goal of the book is to reevaluate the feminist movement of the time.

Walker’s yet another publication touching on feminism, Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After A Lifetime of Ambivalence, was published in 2007.

Personal life

Walker is bisexual and previously had a relationship with neo-soul musician Meshell Ndegeocello, whose son she helped raise.[13][14]

Walker lives in Los Angeles.



  • To be Real: Telling the Truth and Changing the Face of Feminism (1996) (Editor)
  • Black, White and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self (2000)
  • What Makes A Man: 22 Writers Imagine The Future (2004) (Editor)
  • Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence (2007)
  • One Big Happy Family: 18 Writers Talk About Polyamory, Open Adoption, Mixed Marriage, Househusbandry, Single Motherhood, and Other Realities of Truly Modern Love (2009) (Editor)
  • Black Cool: One Thousand Streams of Blackness (Soft Skull Press, February 2012) (Editor)[15]
  • Adé: A Love Story (2013)


  1. ^ Miller, Zeke J.; Rothman, Lily (5 December 2014), "What Happened to the ‘Future Leaders’ of the 1990s?", TIME Magazine, retrieved 17 August 2015 
  2. ^ Ross, Ross (April 8, 2007). "Rebecca Walker bringing message to Expo". Pensacola News Journal. Retrieved April 8, 2007. 
  3. ^ Rebecca Walker (2008-05-23). "Rebecca and her mother". London: Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  4. ^ Women of Distinction Program. Retrieved on 2012-06-26.
  5. ^ NOW's First Annual Intrepid Awards Gala: Rebecca Walker. Retrieved on 2012-05-07.
  6. ^ Matt & Andrej Koymasky – Famous GLTB – Rebecca Walker Archived March 2, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ Kellogg, Carolyn (March 25, 2014). "Madonna to film Rebecca Walker's 'Ade: A Love Story'". Los Angeles Times. 
  8. ^ "Forty Under 40", The Advocate, June–July 2009, retrieved April 7, 2011 
  9. ^ Walker, Rebecca (1992). "Becoming the Third Wave". Ms. Magazine. 11, no. 2 (2): 39–41. 
  10. ^ HeathenGrrl's Blog: Becoming the Third Wave by Rebecca Walker. (2007-02-28). Retrieved on 2012-05-07.
  11. ^ History. Third Wave Foundation. Retrieved on 2012-05-07.
  12. ^ Reviewer Emilie Fale is Assistant Professor of Communication at Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY
  13. ^ Maran, Meredith (May 28, 2004), "What Little Boys are Made of", Salon, retrieved April 7, 2011 
  14. ^ Rosenbloom, Stephanie (March 18, 2007), "Evolution of a Feminist Daughter", The New York Times, retrieved April 7, 2011 
  15. ^ Staff (December 12, 2011). "Black Cool: One Thousand Streams of Blackness. Edited by Rebecca Walker.", Publishers Weekly.