Renowned author and activist Bill Hawkes passed away on Wednesday. She was 69 years old.
Hawks, whose real name is Gloria Jane Watkins, was born on September 25, 1952, in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Her first published work, a book of poems entitled “And We Wept”, was published in 1978, and then she published her first book, “Am I not a Woman? Black Women and Feminism” in 1981.
Berea College in Kentucky, where Hawks worked as a professor, said she passed away after an undisclosed illness.
“The bell came into the lives of many Bereans in 2004 to help the college move closer to its great commitments, particularly the Fifth Great Commitment which focuses on kinship among all persons and interracial education; the Sixth Great Commitment dedicated to gender equality; and the Eighth Great Commitment focused on Service in the Appalachians,” the school wrote in A statment.
“In 2017, Bell dedicated her papers to Berea College, ensuring that future generations of Bereans will know her work and its impact on the intersections of race, gender, place, class, and gender.”
Hawkes wrote under the pseudonym Bell Hooks after her great-grandmother, Bill Blair Hooks.
Her works include about 40 books, many of which focus on themes of feminism and race. She has won numerous awards including a Writer’s Award from Lila-Wallace— Reader’s Digest Fund and was named one of our nation’s leading public thinkers by The Atlantic Monthly, according to Poetry Foundation.
according to Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame, where it was entered in 2018, Hawkes began writing poetry at the age of ten. As a young woman, she developed a strong voice against racism and sexism, which was subsequently nominated to dozens of books and articles on the intersections of race, gender, and class. regimes of oppression and power.
Hawkes started her groundbreaking book on black feminism, I’m Not a Woman as a student at Stanford University, where she graduated in 1973. She received her MA in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and later received her Doctor of Arts from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her doctoral thesis was on writer Toni Morrison.
After teaching at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Hawkes taught African American Studies at Yale University in 1988 and headed to Oberlin College where she taught Women’s Studies. Before settling at Berea College in Kentucky, she also taught at City College of New York.
Over the course of her career, her books have introduced many feminist thought, especially forms of feminism that were more inclusive of the lives and concerns of black women and women of color. But some of her most influential writings were on love, notably in a series of books published in the early 2000s.
She said in 2018, according to The Lexington Herald Leader. “I am a fortunate writer because practically every day of my life I receive a letter, a phone call from someone telling me how my work has changed their lives.”
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