Formative Black Feminist Author bell hooks Has Died

The cultural critic and author of beloved titles such as All About Love and Ain't I a Woman? was 69 years old.

new york   december 16 author and cultural critic bell hooks poses for a portrait on december 16, 1996 in new york city, new york photo by karjean levinegetty images
Karjean LevineGetty Images

Revered cultural critic and author bell hooks has died, according to her home state newspaper, the Lexington Herald Leader. The author, born Gloria Jean Watkins, was a formative figure in the Black feminism movement and the author of popular titles such as All About Love, Ain't I a Woman? Black Women and Feminism, and Communion: The Female Search for Love.

Born September 25, 1952, in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, the writer took on her great-grandmother's name as her working pen name later in life to ensure her work emphasized the "substance of books, not who I am," according to the newspaper. She published her first book, Ain't I a Woman? Black Women and Feminism, in 1981 and went on to author more than 40 books including collections of essays, poetry, and even children's stories. Her work centered heavily on the subjects of feminism, racism, culture, politics, gender, and love—and how they often were inherently intertwined.

In 2004, hooks taught at Berea College in her home state of Kentucky. Six years later, the school opened the bell hooks Institute, where her massive collection of books, personal artifacts, and contemporary African-American art is housed. Feminist and activist Gloria Steinem, actress Emma Watson, and philosopher Cornel West have all paid visits to the institute.

"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," the school said in a statement.

Her family released a statement confirming her passing as well, writing, "The family of Gloria Jean Watkins is deeply saddened by the passing of our beloved sister on December 15, 2021. The family honored her request to transition at home with family and friends by her side. ... The family is honored that Gloria received numerous awards, honors, and international fame for her works as poet, author, feminist, professor, cultural critic, and social activist. We are proud to just call her sister, friend, confidant, and influencer."

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