bell hooks. courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Acclaimed author/activist bell hooks, born Gloria Jean Watkins, has passed away at age 69. 

hooks died on Dec. 15 at her home in Berea, Kentucky, following an undisclosed illness, according to Berea College, where hooks worked as a professor.

“bell came into the life of many Bereans in 2004 to help the College get closer to its Great Commitments, particularly the Fifth Great Commitment focused on the kinship of all people and interracial education; the Sixth Great Commitment dedicated to gender equality; and the Eighth Great Commitment centered on service to Appalachia,” the school wrote in a statement.

“In 2017, bell dedicated her papers to Berea College, ensuring that future generations of Bereans will know her work and the impact she had on the intersections of race, gender, place, class and sexuality.”

The author’s family also offered a statement on the confirmed death of the authorto USA TODAY

“We sadly confirm that our sister Gloria Jean Watkins (bell hooks) passed away at her home in Berea KY in the early morning hour today. She chose cremation so a celebration of life service will be at a later time,” her family said in a statement Wednesday. The celebrated author, feminist, and activist was reportedly surrounded by her close friends and family when she died.

hooks was born on Sept. 25, 1952 in segregated Hopkinsville, Ky., before enrolling at Stanford University in California. She earned a bachelor’s degree at Stanford, a master’s from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a doctorate in literature at the University of California at Santa Cruz. 

“Oh my heart. bell hooks,” wrote writer Roxane Gay. “May she rest in power. Her loss is incalculable.”

Author Ibram X. Kendi tweeted: “The passing of bell hooks hurts, deeply. At the same time, as a human being I feel so grateful she gave humanity so many gifts. AIN’T I A WOMAN: BLACK WOMEN AND FEMINISM is one of her many classics. And ALL ABOUT LOVE changed me. Thank you, bell hooks”.

“She was an intellectual giant, spiritual genius & freest of persons! We shall never forget her!” tweeted activist and academician Dr. Cornel West.