It is with tremendous sadness to report, beloved feminist critic, author, and professor, bell hooks has died. She was 69 years old.
According to a press release from her family, hooks had fallen ill and was surrounded by friends and family at the time of her passing.
Born Gloria Jean Watkins, on September 25, 1952, in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, her namesake was homage to her great-grandmother, Bell Blair Hooks. The intentional lowercase stylization of her name was to emphasize the “substance of books,” not who she was.
hooks first published work in 1978, a book of poems titled And There We Wept. Shortly after, her first book, Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism, an examination on how Black women, throughout modern history, have been oppressed by white men, Black men, and white women, was published in 1981.
From there, hooks amassed some 40 titles including essays, poetry, and children’s books. Her work addressed race, gender, sexuality, class, art, history, mass media, and feminism.
The acclaimed writer was the winner of several awards including the American Book Award and Lila-Wallace Reader’s Digest Award. In 2018, hooks was inducted to the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame.
hooks has always been dedicated to the overall well-being of Black people. In a 2010 ESSENCE interview, she said,
“I think the number one thing Black women and all Black people should be paying attention to is our health. By that, I mean our physical and mental health because I don’t think we can be self determining without those two strengths. I think the revolution needs to be one of self-esteem because I feel we are all assaulted on all sides. It used to be we were assaulted by really horrendous representations and notions of Blackness coming from White people, but now a lot of those notions come to us from Black people.”
Any contributions and memorials can be sent on her behalf to the Christian County Literacy Council, which promotes reading for children, via PayPal or to the Museums of Historic Hopkinsville Christian County where a biographical exhibit about the late author is currently on display.
A celebration of life ceremony will be announced at a later date.