It is with a heavy heart and the deepest sadness to report that the trailblazing Black feminist author, bell hooks has died at her home in Berea, Kentucky at 69 years old.
hooks was the voice of a generation as she wrote in-depth on a myriad of topics from race and gender to feminism, always speaking for the working class Black community and decentralizing the middle and upper middle-class conversation and examination of the Black experience.
As an author she wrote nearly 40 books including her feministic 1981 debut “Ain’t I a Woman?: Black women and feminism.” In the book, she writes, “A devaluation of Black womanhood occurred as a result of the sexual exploitation of Black women during slavery that has not altered in the course of hundreds of years.” She never shied away from expressing empowering truth-telling manifestos as her books are enlightening, emotionally intelligent and searingly realistic, giving voice to Black women all over the world who felt alienated, alone and misunderstood. She also explored and celebrated Black men with her book “We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity” writing about the injustices against our communities and the men who withstood great challenges and targeting by white oppressors.
hooks, whose given name was Gloria Jean Watkins, began her teaching career as an English professor and ethnic studies senior lecturer at the University of Southern California in 1976. While teaching she published her first book, a collection of poems entitled “And There We Wept” in 1978. Over the years she would teach at several educational institutions including Yale, San Francisco State University, Oberlin College and City College of New York.
As a distinguished intellectual and cultural critic, hooks was offered priceless thoughts and information that will go on to be groundwork to Black feminist theory offering herself as a guide and invaluable voice for marginalized communities. The undertaking was huge and she was nothing but graceful while being a strong and effective activist. There will never be anyone like bell hooks whose clear and poetic fusion of writing and nonfiction intelligence was unique and extremely profound.
She was born Sept. 25, 1952, in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. The New York Times writes, “Though her childhood in the semirural South exposed her to vicious examples of white supremacy, her tight-knit Black community in Hopkinsville showed her the possibility of resistance from the margins, of finding community among the oppressed and drawing power from those connections—a theme to which she would return frequently in her work.”
bell hooks gave her entire life to the movement. Now, the movement must live on, continuing the conversations her large catalog of work has set forth.