Bell Hooks Dies: Author and Feminist Was 69

bell hooks headshot. Courtesy of Media & Repertoire

Renowned activist and author bell hooks died Wednesday at her home in Berea, Kentucky. She was 69.

Her sister Gwenda Motley said the cause of death was end-stage renal failure, according to published reports.

The activist’s longtime friend and mentee, author Kevin Powell, acknowledged the impact she had on his life in a statement to Urban Hollywood 411.

“Like others who visited privately in bell’s final days, I held her hands, I touched her knees, I rubbed her feet, as she laid in a hospital bed in her living room. I told bell over and over again how much I loved her, I told her over and over again, ‘Thank you,’” Powell wrote. 

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He continued, “40-plus books in 40-plus years and so many lives and minds and souls touched by her words, even those who may have disagreed, even those who may have angered bell, or she them.” 

Born Gloria Jean Watkins, hooks insisted on having her pen name be all lowercase, according to her 1981 book “Ain’t I a Woman? Black Women and Feminism,” which catapulted her into the national consciousness. She started writing the book in her early twenties as an undergraduate student. 

She asked for a new kind of feminism, one that noted the inequalities and differences among different groups of women.

Over the course of her life, she wrote books including “Feminism is for Everybody,” “But Some of Us Are Brave,” “Communion: The Female Search for Love,” and others. 

She was born on Sept. 25, 1952, in Kentucky before attending both segregated schools and white-majority schools in elementary school. 

hooks attended Stanford for undergrad and later received a master’s degree in English from the University of Wisconsin, followed by a doctorate in literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz.