Michigan university to reinvite author

Author Alice Walker will be invited to speak in a public forum on campus,  the provost of the University of Michigan said, after being disinvited  from a women’s center celebration.

Walker is a well-known supporter of boycott, divestment and sanctions, or BDS, against Israel, in particular “a cultural boycott of Israel and Israeli institutions,” such as her decision last year to not allow an Israeli publishing house to translate her book “The Color Purple” into Hebrew.

The provost, Martha Pollack, said in a letter to university faculty posted on the university’s Center for the Education of Women’s web page that the center and the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies plan to invite Walker to speak on campus.

Walker in a blog posted on her website last week said she had been disinvited from speaking at the 50th anniversary of the  women’s center. The Pulitzer Prize winner maintained that she was asked to step aside at the initiative of donors.

The center said the invitation’s withdrawal was based solely on the “celebratory nature” they hoped to achieve at the anniversary event.

Pollack, in the letter, reiterated the university’s “firm commitment to free speech and to the expression of diverse viewpoints.”

“At the same time, we respect the right of individual academic units to make decisions about whom they invite to campus, consistent with university principles and values,” she wrote. — jta