Dec. 15, 2021

The feminist author and scholar bell hooks, whose best-known book was "Ain’t I a Woman? Black Women and Feminism," has died at age 69.

Her sister, Gwenda Motley, said the cause of death was end-stage renal failure, The Washington Post reported. Hooks died at her home in Berea, KY, where she had served as Distinguished Professor in Residence in Appalachian Studies at Berea College.

Besides “Ain’t I a Woman?” hooks wrote more than 30 books. Her writings broadened the feminist movement, which was often considered only for white middle-class and upper-class women, according to The Post’s article. In 2020, Time magazine included her in its “100 Women of the Year,” calling her a “rare rock star of a public intellectual.”

Other notable books by hooks were “The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love;” “Communion: The Female Search for Love;” and “Feminism Is For Everybody.”

Berea College, in a statement about her death, said hooks was born Gloria Jean Watkins in Hopkinsville, KY, and adopted the lower case pen name bell hooks “based on the names of her mother and grandmother, to emphasize the importance of the substance of her writing as opposed to who she is.”

Hooks earned her bachelor’s degree from Stanford University, her master’s at the University of Wisconsin, and her doctorate from the University of California at Santa Cruz. She taught at Stanford, Yale, the City College of New York, and other colleges and universities before going to Berea in 2004.

She dedicated her papers to Berea College in 2017, “ensuring that future generations of Bereans will know her work and the impact she had on the intersections of race, gender, place, class and sexuality. The following year, she was inducted into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame,” Berea said.

Show Sources

The Washington Post: “bell hooks, trailblazing Black feminist and social critic, dies at 69”


Berea College. “Statement on the death of bell hooks from Berea College”


Berea College. “bell hooks”

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