The trailblazing feminist author, poet, feminist, cultural critic and professor, Bell Hooks, died on Wednesday at age 69. This sad news was first announced by her niece, Ebony Motley, who mentioned that she took her last breath at home surrounded by her loved ones. Therefore, no cause of death has been reported yet, but Berea College in Kentucky, where bell hooks taught for long 17 years, mentioned that she died after an extended illness.
Bell Hooks was born in Gloria Jean Watkins as the fourth of seven children in Hopkinsville on Sept. 25, 1952, and her pen name was a tribute to her maternal great-grandmother, Bell Blair Hooks.
Bell completed her schooling in her native Christian County, Ky and then her undergraduate at Stanford University in California, a master’s degree in English at the University of Wisconsin and a doctorate in literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She taught at Stanford University, Yale University, Oberlin College in Ohio and the City College of New York before returning to Kentucky to teach at Berea College.
Bell Hooks published her first title, the poetry collection And There We Wept, in 1978. Her influential book Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism in 1981. After three years, her Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center explored and criticized the feminist movement’s propensity to centre and privilege white women’s experiences.
Hooks majorly worked on the deep intersections of race, gender, class, sexuality and geographic place. She has also written about her native Appalachia and growing up there as a Black girl in her collection Belonging: A Culture of Place and in the poetry collection Appalachian Elegy: Poetry and Place.
In a 2000 interview after her book, All Things Considered, bell hooks told about the life-changing power of love — where she mentioned “I’m talking about a love that is transformative, that challenges us in both our private and our civic lives,” and. “I’m so moved often when I think of the civil rights movement because I see it as a great movement for social justice that was rooted in love and that politicized the notion of love, that said: Real love will change you.”
She went on: “Everywhere I go, people want to feel more connected. They want to feel more connected to their neighbours. They want to feel more connected to the world. And when we learn that through love we can have that connection, we can see the stranger as ourselves. And I think that it would be fantastic to have that sense of ‘Let’s return to kind of a utopian focus on love, not unlike the sort of hippie focus on love.’ Because I always say to people, you know, the ’60s’ focus on love had its stupid sentimental dimensions, but then it had these life-transforming dimensions. When I think of the love of justice that led three young people, two Jews and one African American Christian, to go to the South and fight for justice and give their lives — Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner — I think that’s a quality of love that’s awesome. … I tell this to young people, you know, that we can love in a deep and profound form the political world in which we live in.”