Home Author Acclaimed author Bell Hooks dies at 69

Acclaimed author Bell Hooks dies at 69


Writer's bell hooks.

Writer’s bell hooks.

Bell Hooks Institute

bell hooks, a native of Hopkinsville who pursued an international career as an author, critic, feminist and public intellectual, died on December 15 at her home in Berea. She was 69 years old.

She was ill and was surrounded by friends and family when she died, according to a press release from her niece, Ebony Motley.

Gloria Jean Watkins was born September 25, 1952 in Hopkinsville, Ky. To Veodis and Rosa Bell Watkins, the fourth of seven siblings. She attended Christian County Separate Schools, then went to Stanford University in California, then earned an MA in English from the University of Wisconsin and a Doctorate in Literature from the University of California at Santa Cruz. . She adopted her great-grandmother’s name as a lowercase pen name, she told interviewers, to emphasize the “substance of the books, not who I am.”

She published her first book, “Am I Not a Woman? Black Women and Feminism ”in 1981. Her literary career continued with over 40 books, including essays, poetry and children’s books. Her subjects include feminism, racism, culture, politics, gender roles, love, and spirituality.

In 2004, she returned to Kentucky to teach at Berea College. Another book, “Belonging: A Culture of Place,” spoke of his flashback. In 2010, the school opened the Bell Hooks Institute at Berea College. The institute houses his collection of contemporary African-American art, personal items, and copies of his books published in other languages. The center has attracted visitors such as Gloria Steinem, actress Emma Watson and Cornel West.

In a 2018 interview with former columnist Tom Eblen when she was inducted into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame, Hooks said she wanted important people to come to the institute to speak with the locals. .

“A lot of people aren’t comfortable coming to college campuses for a conference. They feel that this is not their place, ”she said. The thing about the institute is that its goal is to be that kind of democratic place. No diploma required.

Feminist Gloria Steinem, left, appears with bell hooks during a program at Berea College on November 16, 2015 Berea College

hooks has greatly influenced many writers in many fields in academia and beyond.

“I want my job to be about healing,” she said. “I’m a lucky writer because every day of my life I practically receive a letter, a phone call from someone telling me how my work has transformed their life. “

She has remained close to her friends and family in Berea.

“She was one of my dearest friends and the world is a lesser place today without her,” said one of her friends from Berea, Linda Strong-Leek.

A celebration of life will be announced at a later date.

The hooks family said contributions and memorials can be made to the Christian County Literacy Council through Paypal (https://www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=CGQPNACBYNRZA) which promotes reading for children or museums of historic Hopkinsville Christian County. (http://www.museumsofhopkinsville.org/contact/) where a biographical exhibition is presented.