Queer Black feminist bell hooks, one of the nation’s most esteemed intellectuals, has passed away. She was 69.
Born Gloria Jean Watkins in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, her pen name was her great-grandmother’s name. She stylized it in lowercase letters to emphasize the importance of the “substance of books, not who I am.”
After attending segregated schools, hooks went on to attend and later teach at Stanford University. After getting her master’s degree, she taught at Yale and other prestigious universities before settling into her role on the faculty of Berea College near her hometown.
hooks wrote over 40 books including collections of essays and poetry along with children’s books. Topics included politics, feminism, racism, gender roles, love, and spirituality.
The bell hooks Institute at Berea College houses her personal memorabilia, copies of her books that were translated into other languages, and her collection of contemporary African-American art. The center also “cultivates radical coalition between women, LGBTQPIA+ students, and students of color.”
“Berea College is deeply saddened about the death of bell hooks, Distinguished Professor in Residence in Appalachian Studies, prodigious author, public intellectual, and one of the country’s foremost feminist scholars,” a statement from the school said.
Her family said that they honored her wishes to die at home surrounded by loved ones.
“The family is honored that Gloria received numerous awards, honors, and international fame for her works as a poet, author, feminist, professor, cultural critic, and social activist,” they said in a statement. “We are proud to just call her sister, friend, confidant, and influencer.”
“I want my work to be about healing,” hooks said before she died. “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.”
Oh my heart. bell hooks. May she rest in power. Her loss is incalculable.
— roxane gay (@rgay) December 15, 2021
she taught me that there is a way to look at this world and say "there it is, that's what we have to destroy and build from there" when many people were telling me "that's just the way it is." Rest in Power, you gave so much to us, we will follow in your footsteps.
— pfizer papi (@NicoleFroio) December 15, 2021
Rest In Peace and Power, bell hooks.
Thank you for everything. pic.twitter.com/3oaIdTrAfD
— Black Women Radicals (@blkwomenradical) December 15, 2021
— Enter Ebony (@Enter_Ebony) December 15, 2021
If you're just learning about bell hooks, there's no shame. You can always read her words and meet her on the page.
— Raquel Willis (@RaquelWillis_) December 15, 2021