bell hooks, Feminist Author and Social Activist, Dies at 69
The family of Gloria Jean Watkins, better known by her pen name bell hooks, announced that she passed away today at age 69.
In a press release, Watkins’s family announced that they are, “deeply saddened at 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.” They go on to write, “Gloria was a native of Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Born September 25, 1952, to Veodis and Rosa Bell Watkins, she was the fourth of seven siblings. In 1978, she published her first book of poems, And There We Wept, under the pen name bell hooks, honoring our great-grandmother. Her written works include some 40 books that are now published in 15 different languages making her an international favorite loved by many. 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.”
Watkins grew up in Christian County attending segregated schools before going on to attend Stanford University, getting her master’s degree in English at the University of Wisconsin, and her doctorate in literature at the University of California at Santa Cruz. She would go on to write hugely influential books on topics including feminism, racism, culture, politics, gender, love, and spirituality. She told interviewers that she chose to use her great-grandmother’s name in all lower case as her pen name to emphasize the “substance of books, not who I am.” In 2004, she returned to her home state to teach at Berea College and, in 2010, the school opened the bell hooks Institute which houses her collection of contemporary African-American art, personal artifacts, and copies of her books published in other languages. In 2018, she was inducted into the Kentucky Writers’ Hall of Fame. Watkins’s friend Linda Strong-Leek told the Lexington Herald-Leader of her passing, “She was one of my dearest friends and the world is a lesser place today without her.”
Watkins’s family added that any contributions and memorials can be sent on her behalf to the Christian County Literacy Council, which promotes reading for children, via PayPal or to the Museums of Historic Hopkinsville Christian County where a biographical exhibit about the late author is currently on display. A celebration of life ceremony will be announced at a later date.
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Published at Wed, 15 Dec 2021 17:45:04 +0000