The leading feminist scholar bell hooks, the Distinguished Professor in Residence in Appalachian Studies at Berea College in Kentucky, died at her home in Berea on December 15, from kidney failure. She was 69 years old.
Professor hooks was born with the name Gloria Jean Watkins in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, in 1952. Her father was a custodian and her mother was a maid. She excelled in school and earned a bachelor’s degree in English at Stanford University. She went on to earn a master’s degree in English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Ph.D. in English at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Professor hooks began her academic career as a senior lecturer in ethnic studies at the University of Southern California. It was during this time that she adopted her maternal great-grandmother’s name as a pen name but used lower-case letters to defer to her elder.
Over the years, Professor hooks taught at the University of California, Santa Cruz, San Francisco State University, and Oberlin College in Ohio. In 1994, she was named a Distinguished Professor of English at the City College of New York. She founded an institute that bears her name at Berea College in 2014 and donated her papers to the college in 2017.
Professor hooks was the author of more than 30 books including Ain’t I a Woman? Black Women and Feminism (South End Press, 1981), Feminism Is for Everyone: Passionate Politics (Routledge, 2000), and Rock My Soul: Black People and Self Esteem (Atria Books, 2003).