Trailblazing feminist author, critic and activist bell hooks has died at 69

Bel hooks

Prolific and pioneering author, poet, feminist, cultural critic, and teacher bell hooks died Wednesday at age 69. her death was first announced by her niece, ebony motley, who said she had died in her home surrounded by family and friends. No cause of death was released for her, but Berean University in Kentucky, where Hooks had taught since 2004, said in a news release that she had died after a prolonged illness.

Preferring to spell her name without capitalization as a way to de-emphasize her individual identity, Bell Hooks was born Gloria Jean Watkins as the fourth of seven children in Hopkinsville, Ky., on September 1. January 25, 1952. Her pen name was a tribute to her maternal great-grandmother, Bell Blair Hooks.

He attended segregated schools in his native Christian county, Kentucky, before earning his undergraduate degree from Stanford University in California, an MA in English from the University of Wisconsin, and a Ph.D. in literature from the University of California. , holy cross.

He taught at Stanford University, Yale University, Oberlin University in Ohio, and City University of New York before returning to Kentucky to teach at Berea University, now home to the Bell Center. hooks.

Author of more than three dozen powerful books, Hooks published her first title, the poetry collection And There We Cry, in 1978. Her influential book Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism followed in 1981. Three Years later, her feminist theory: Margin to Center explored and critiqued the feminist movement’s propensity to center and privilege the experiences of white women.

Hooks’ work often addressed the deep intersections of race, gender, class, sexuality, and geographic location. She wrote about her native Appalachia and how she grew up there as a black girl in the collection of critical essays Pertaining: A Culture of Place and in the poetry collection Appalachian Elegy: Poetry and Place.

In a 2000 interview with all things considered, Hooks spoke about the life-changing power of love, meaning the act of loving, and how love is so much broader than just the romantic feeling. “I’m talking about a love that is transformative, that challenges us both in our private life and in our civic life,” he said. “I am often very moved when I think about the civil rights movement, because I see it as a great movement for social justice that was rooted in love and that politicized the notion of love, that said: true love will change you. “

continued: “everywhere they go, people want to feel more connected. they want to feel more connected to their neighbors. they want to feel more connected to the world. and when we learn that through love we can have that connection, we can see to the stranger like ourselves and I think it would be absolutely fantastic to have that feeling of ‘let’s go back to a utopian kind of approach to love, not too different from the hippie kind of approach to love.’ because I always tell people, ya You know, the 1960s focus on love had its stupid sentimental dimensions, but then it had these life-transforming dimensions, when I think about the love of justice that led three young people, two Jews and an African-American Christian, to to go south and fight for justice and give their lives — well, chaney and schwerner — i think it’s a quality of love that’s amazing… i tell this to young people, you know, that we can love in a deep and deep than tr ansforms the political world we live in.”

additional reporting contributed by steve smith.

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