Gloria Jean Watkins, better known by her alias “bell hooks,” is being commemorated at Hopkinsville Community College — with plans to erect not only a feature in her honor at Round Table Literary Park, but also in a September 25 campus celebration to culminate on the 70th birthday of the author, professor, feminist and social activist.
dr Alissa Young, President and CEO of HCC, noted that Hopkinsville is fortunate to be the only city in the United States with a Literary Park, and that Bell Hooks began her life in Christian County—in what was the initial broadening of her perspectives and to their knowledge was the universe of literature.
The history of the popular literature park is important. Founded in 1974 under the direction of former HCC English professor Frances Thomas, she and her students worked with local supporters to build the park. Set in a grove of trees is a Greco-Roman amphitheatre, a sculpture of Melpomene, King Arthur’s legendary ‘Sword in the Stone’, a £22,000 replica of King Arthur’s Round Table (seating 24), and a replica of the Tholos at Delphi.
The park has recently been damaged by vandals, including the theft of the Mask of Tragedy from Melpomene’s hand. College officials are currently making amends for the damage.
The Thomas family, under an established foundation, continues to support this Hooks addition. Funds from the foundation will help rehabilitate existing facilities and equip the park with technology.
HCC Foundation executive director Yvette Eastham says code badging will be added to some of the park’s features – allowing information about things like King Arthur, Merlin, Exacalibur, Melpomene and mythology to come straight to a smartphone.
She added that this is a quiet, peaceful place to think, study and read – and a place that hasn’t been added since 1994.
Lifelong Hopkinsville resident Gwenda Watkins Motley, Hooks’ younger sister, expressed her delight at the thought of her sister being permanently memorialized at the Round Table Literary Park.
“Our sister Gloria, known to the world as the Bell Hooks, was larger than life in every area she touched,” she writes. “The family is deeply honored by HCC’s plan to honor their work at Round Table Literary Park, and we look forward to this installation that will inspire future generations to dare, dream and do.”
The HCC Foundation is currently accepting donations and has a preliminary fundraising goal of $35,000.
Contact Eastham at (270) 707-3731 to make a tax-deductible donation toward the bell hook installation. Send payments for credit/debit card gifts to The HCC Foundation, PO Box 180, Hopkinsville, Kentucky 42241-0180.