“I will not have my life narrowed down. I will not bow down to somebody else’s whim or someone else’s ignorance.”
bell hooks is a Top 100 AALBC.com Bestselling Author Making Our List 6 Times
bell hooks was Voted the #33 Favorite Author of the 20th Century
bell hooks (Sep. 25, 1952 – Dec 15, 2021) was a cultural critic, feminist theorist, and writer. Celebrated as one of our nation’s leading public intellectuals by The Atlantic Monthly, as well as one of Utne Reader’s “100 Visionaries Who Could Change Your Life,” she was a charismatic speaker who divides her time among teaching, writing, and lecturing around the world.
bell hooks was born on September 25, 1952, in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. At birth, she was named Gloria Jean Watkins. The name bell hooks was adopted from her great grandmother, Bell Blair Hooks. She does not to capitalize her pseudonym so that the focus is one her work and ideas rather than her personality. Her father worked as a janitor, and her mother worked as a maid in the homes of white families.
hooks lived in a segregated community and for a while, also attended segregated schools where she was taught by teachers of color. Her teachers helped to build her self esteem while her community helped to shape her resistance to racism, which contributed to her works. hooks was very talkative, and by age ten, she was already writing and reciting poetry.
hooks attended and graduated Hopkinsville High School in Hopkinsville, Kentucky and continued her education by attending Stanford University where she obtained her BA in English in 1973. hooks also received her Master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and earned her Doctorate from the University of California in 1976. As an educator Hooks felt she was doing her part against the political resistance surrounding the history of blacks being denied an education.
In the earlier part of the 1980s hooks took a teaching position at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, she taught African American studies. She later continued her teaching career at Oberlin College in Ohio, and taught women studies. Her love for teaching took her to City College in New York, which would become her home.
hooks career continued to magnify, and she became an author and published over 30 books, which also includes children’s books. hooks have written many journal articles and collaborated with other authors and their works. In 1978 she wrote and published her first work, a chapbook of poems, entitled And There We Wept. hooks also wrote Ain’t I a Woman? Black Women and Feminism (1981). Publisher Weekly recognized Ain’t I a Woman as one of the twenty most influential women’s books in the last twenty years in 1992. hooks also received an NAACP Image Award nomination, in 2001, for her children’s book Happy to be Nappy which she wrote in 1999. She also wrote Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center (1984) and Salvation: Black people and love (2001) which also nominated for the Hurston Wright Legacy Award in 2002. Hooks continued to write other works such as Talking back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black (1989), Yearning: Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics (1990), Rock My Soul: Black People and Self-esteem (2003), Belonging: a Culture of Place (2009), Writing Beyond Race: Living Theory and Practice (2013), Salvation: Black People and Love (2001).
hooks continued to write about issues that are important to her; she addressed topics such as uplifting women, equality for all, and bridging the gap — especially for the ones in the lower end of the economic sphere. She continued to reside in New York City  and speaks actively against racism and sexism in America.
—written by Delia Mercado, AALBC Intern