bell hooks—the American author, professor, and social activist whose writings and teachings on race, class, gender, capitalism, and a host of other topics helped define intersectional feminist theory—died on Wednesday at the age of 69. hooks’s passing came after an extended illness, according to a statement from Berea College in Kentucky, where she had served as distinguished professor in residence in Appalachian studies and established the bell hooks center earlier this year.
hooks—who was born Gloria Jean Watkins on September 25, 1952, in Hopkinsville, Kentucky— published more than 40 books over the course of her life, including the 1978 poetry collection And There We Wept and the 1981 study Ain’t I A Woman: Black Women and Feminism, which author Min Jin Lee (a former student of hooks’s) hailed in a 2019 New York Times story as “a radical and relevant work of political theory.”
As the news of hooks’s passing broke on Wednesday, many who had been impacted by her work and legacy took to social media to share their grief:
hooks, who styled her pen name after her great-grandmother Bell Blair Hooks, was inducted into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame and was named one of America’s leading public intellectuals by The Atlantic Monthly. In addition to her work at Berea College, hooks also taught at USC, Yale University, Oberlin College, and the City College of New York over the course of her life. In honor of hooks’s memory, her family is accepting contributions to the Christian County Literacy Council or the Museums of Historic Hopkinsville Christian County.