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Literary Giant, bell hooks, Has Joined The Ancestors

Literary Giant, bell hooks, Has Joined The Ancestors

Literary giant, bell hooks, has gained her wings.

As shared in a tweet from her family, hooks, who blazed her own trail as a groundbreaking Black feminist, author, critic and public intellectual, has passed away at the age of 69.

She was born as Gloria Jean Watkins on September 25, 1952 in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Later, she would change her pen name to bell hooks to honor her maternal great-grandmother – and to put emphasis on her messages rather than her identity – hooks chose to use lower case letters.

As a child, she became an avid reader and had her first poems published in a Sunday School magazine. Finding solace from social oppression through literature and writing, hooks, whose childhood dream was to become an architect, went on to graduate from Stanford University in 1973 with a bachelors in English Literature.

It was during college, at the age of 19, that she began building what is currently known as a pioneering intersectional feminism text, “Ain’t I A Woman: Black Women and Feminism” (of course inspired by Sojourner Truth’s iconic 1851 speech of the same name aforementioned). 

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1976 with a master’s degree in English Literature, another first came for hooks in 1978 when she published her first poems, “And There We Wept” under her pen name. She later earned a doctorate from the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1983.

Dedicating her life to writing about the intersectionality of race, capitalism and gender, hooks’ legacy includes publishing more than 40 books (now available in 15 different languages) and the well-deserved title as one of the most influential voices of modern feminist scholarship.

"I want my work to be about healing,” reports hooks saying. “I am a fortunate writer because every day of my life practically I get a letter, a phone call from someone who tells me how my work has transformed their life." 

By the outpour of condolences, it's clear that hooks' impact will remain with us for generations to come. 

Rest in power, bell hooks.

Photo Courtesy of Monica Almeida/The New York Times