/  12.15.2021

Bell Hooks, prolific author and activist, passed away at her home on Wednesday morning (Dec. 15). She was 69 years old. In a statement, Hooks’ family confirmed her passing and said she died surrounded by her family and friends.

“The family of Gloria Jean Watkins (pen name bell hooks) is deeply saddened by the passing of our beloved sister on December 15, 2021,” the statement read. “The family honored her request to transition at home with family and friends by her side.”

“The family is honored that Gloria received numerous awards, honors and international fame for her work as a poet, author, feminist, professor, cultural critic and social activist,” it continued. “We are proud to just call her sister, friend, confidant and influencer.”

Kentucky’s Berea College, where Hooks served as distinguished professor in residence since 2004, also confirmed her passing. In a statement, the college said Hooks died after suffering from an “extended illness.”

“Berea College is deeply saddened about the death of bell hooks, Distinguished Professor in Residence in Appalachian Studies, prodigious author, public intellectual and one of the country’s foremost feminist scholars,” the statement read.

Born Gloria Jean Watkins, the acclaimed author used her great-grandmother’s name — bell hooks — as her pen name, stylized in all lowercase letters. Hooks was best-known for her writings on race, gender, identity, culture and politics; and the intersection of feminism and race, including her 1981 book, Ain’t I a Woman? Black Women and Feminism and 1999’s All About Love. She published her first book of poems, And There We Wept in 1978 and would go on to write more than 40 works throughout her career, including essays, poetry and children’s books.

Hooks was honored with numerous awards and accolades, including a Pulitzer Prize for poetry; the American Book Awards/ Before Columbus Foundation Award for Yearning: Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics; the Writer’s Award from the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund; as well as nominations for the NAACP’s Image Award for Happy to Be Nappy and the Hurston Wright Legacy Award for Salvation: Black People and Love.

In 2010, Berea College also opened the Bell Hook Institute at Berea College, which is home to her collection of contemporary African-American art, published writings in other languages and personal artifacts.

See reactions to Hooks’ tragic passing from those she inspired on Twitter below.


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