Linda Blackford of the Lexington Herald-Ledger is reporting world renowned scholar, activist, womanist, professor and public intellectual bell hooks has died after a lengthy illness. hooks, who attended segregated schools in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, attended Stanford University after graduating from high school. hooks earned a master’s degree in English at the University of Wisconsin and then a doctorate in literature at UC Santa Cruz.
Born Gloria Jean Watkins, hooks used her great-grandmother’s name as her pen name in order to remain connected to her familial legacy of Black women. hooks wrote the name using all lowercase letters to focus more attention on the message than the messenger.
In 1981, hooks penned her first book, “Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism,” kicking off a tremendous career as an activist, scholar, poet and children’s books author. Hooks authored over 40 books exploring topics like intersectionality, economics, feminism, love and spirituality.
The 2018 Kentucky Hall of Fame inductee returned to Kentucky to teach at Berea College in 2004. The college launched the bell hooks Institute in 2010, which “houses her collection of contemporary African-American art, artifacts and her books in other languages.” Blackford writes:
“In a 2018 interview with former columnist Tom Eblen when she was inducted into the Kentucky Writers’ Hall of Fame, hooks said that she wanted important people to come to the institute to speak with local people. “Lots of people aren’t comfortable coming on college campuses for a talk. They feel like that’s not their place,” she said. The thing about the institute is that its goal is to be this sort of democratic location. No degrees required.”
Considered a giant in feminism, womanism and equality in academic spaces, hooks is often credited with paving the way for intersectional feminism and is praised for her influence and impact on feminist and womanist scholars and the direction of the canon of intersectional feminisms. A celebration of life will be held at a later date. hooks died at home surrounded by friends and family. She was 69.
This news brief was written by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., founder & editor-in-chief of The Burton Wire. Follow Nsenga on Twitter @Ntellectual.