Bell Hook at The New School in 2014.
“One of the most important ways we sustain ourselves is by building communities of resistance, places where we know we’re not alone.” – Bell Hooks
Bell Hooks has died. According to the Washington Post, the cause was end-stage renal failure. She was 69.
Born Gloria Jean Watkins in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, Hooks became an internationally renowned author, critic, scholar, and feminist. She died on December 15 at her home in Berea, Kentucky. The name Bell Hooks was a nod to a deceased great-grandmother, and the lowercase letters spell out an oath by Hooks that their ideas and work are the focus, not their identity. She explains the name in her book Talking Back.
Hooks attended segregated schools in Christian County as a child and then attended Stanford University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in English literature in 1973. This was followed by a master’s degree in English from the University of Wisconsin in 1976 and then her doctorate in literature from the University of California Santa Cruz in 1983.
In 1981, Hooks published her first book, Ain’t I a Woman? Black Women and Feminism, and her writing career has continued with over 40 books including children’s books, essays and poetry. She focused on issues such as racism, love, feminism and justice.
Growing up experiencing racism during segregation, Hooks’ work helped define the conversations about race. She helped redefine feminism to include black women’s ideas and lives as essential to the feminist movement, which had primarily addressed issues relevant to white women rather than all women.
Hooks returned to Kentucky in 2004 to teach at Berea. She wrote about this step in her book, Belonging: A Culture of Place.
Berea College released a statement and had this to say about the news of Hook’s death: “Berea College is deeply saddened by the passing of Bell Hooks, Distinguished Professor in Residence in Appalachian Studies, prodigious author, public intellectual, and one of the nation’s leading feminist scholars.”
The school is home to the Bell Hooks Institute which has her collection of contemporary African American art, a repository for her papers and moreother personal artifacts.
Hooks was ill for some time. Agreement announcements will be made at a later date, however the family has requested that donations go to the Christian County Literacy Council PayPalwhich promotes reading for children or which Museums of Historic Hopkinsville Christian County where there is a biographical exhibition.
Many had comments on her life and legacy. Their influence transcended national, racial, and gender boundaries.
“Sometimes people try to destroy you precisely because they see your power – not because they don’t see it, but because they see it and don’t want it to exist.” – Bellhook
Get some rest, Bell Hooks. 💔
— Hannah Drake (@HannahDrake628) December 15, 2021
bell hook gigantic.
Rest in peace.
Thank you for sharing your light with the world!
— emicida (@emicida) December 15, 2021
Rest in peace and strength, bellhook.
Thank you for everything. pic.twitter.com/3oaIdTrafD
— Radical Black Women (@blkwomenradical) December 15, 2021
Passing bell hooks hurts deeply. At the same time, as a human being, I am so grateful that she has given so many gifts to humanity. AIN’T IA WOMAN: BLACK WOMEN AND FEMINISM is one of her many classics. And ALL ABOUT LOVE changed me. Thank you, Bellhook. rest in our love 1/4 pic.twitter.com/lXnAlaZpng
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