Author and activist bell hooks, who was celebrated for her literature on feminism and race, died on Wednesday, Lexington Herald-Leader reported. She was 69.
The author was born on Sept. 25, 1952, in Hopkinsville, Kentucky as Gloria Jean Watkins. She released her first book of poems, And There We Wept, in 1978. She followed up her poetry with her first novel Ain’t I A Woman? Black Women and Feminism in 1981.
According to Berea College in Kentucky, hooks died following a private illness. hooks taught as a professor at the college for 17 years.
“bell came into the life of many Bereans in 2004 to help the College get closer to its Great Commitments, particularly the Fifth Great Commitment focused on the kinship of all people and interracial education; the Sixth Great Commitment dedicated to gender equality; and the Eighth Great Commitment centered on service to Appalachia,” the school wrote in a statement.
“In 2017, bell dedicated her papers to Berea College, ensuring that future generations of Bereans will know her work and the impact she had on the intersections of race, gender, place, class and sexuality.”
The author’s pseudonym, bell hooks was a tribute to her great-grandmother Bell Blair Hooks. Of the lowercase spelling of her name, hooks once said it was “to distinguish [herself from] her great-grandmother” and for the focus to be on the “substance of books, not who I am.”
Hooks has released 40 pieces of literary work, highlighting topics like feminism and race. Throughout her career, she accumulated numerous awards, including the Writer’s Award from the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund. She was selected as one of our nation’s leading public intellectuals by The Atlantic Monthly, per The Poetry Foundation.