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.
it is not hyperbole to say bell hooks saved me and so many of the women i've been blessed to move through this life alongside. what an incalculable loss, my goodness
— Hannah Giorgis | ሐና ጊዮርጊስ (@hannahgiorgis) December 15, 2021
“Love is an action, never simply a feeling” ― bell hooks
We mourn the tremendous loss of bell hooks. A woman of great compassion, courage, & extraordinary intellect. Thank you for always putting your love for Black people in action – for challenging us to imagine a bolder future pic.twitter.com/9tydxdgJsg
— Well-Read Black Girl ™ (@wellreadblkgirl) December 15, 2021
An author. A professor. An intersectional feminist. An activist. An icon. Rest in power, Bell Hooks. pic.twitter.com/pffZuwn58b
— LEX (@iamlexstylz) December 15, 2021
“No black woman writer in this culture can write "too much". Indeed, no woman writer can write "too much"…No woman has ever written enough.”
– bell hooks
— Clarkisha (@IWriteAllDay_) December 15, 2021
I am heartbroken. bell hooks' words helped to make me the writer i am, taught me me that there is no shame in centering love and tenderness, in approaching and embracing it. with ferocity.she is an everlasting force and blessing may she rest in perfect peace
— Bolu Babalola (@BeeBabs) December 15, 2021
“True resistance begins with people confronting pain…and wanting to do something to change it.”
– bell hooks pic.twitter.com/99b73RFOj7
— Leslie Mac (@LeslieMac) December 15, 2021
Rest In Peace and Power, bell hooks.
Thank you for everything. pic.twitter.com/3oaIdTrAfD
— Black Women Radicals (@blkwomenradical) December 15, 2021
As a first generation college student, bell hooks was the first writer I encountered via academia whose work I was able to enthusiastically discuss with friends and fam *outside* academia. My mom and I read bell hooks together. I’ll always cherish the way her work bridged shores.
— Saeed Jones (@theferocity) December 15, 2021
Strange and disorienting to lose Bell Hooks and Greg Tate in such close proximity. For so many of us these were two of the landmarks we used to navigate our intellectual journeys. Rest In Peace to both of them.
— jelani cobb (@jelani9) December 15, 2021
Oh my heart. bell hooks. May she rest in power. Her loss is incalculable.
— roxane gay (@rgay) December 15, 2021
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