From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

hooks, bell [Gloria Jean Watkins]

(born: September 25, 1952  -  died: December 15, 2021) 

She was born Gloria Jean Watkins in Hopkinsville, KY, the daughter of Rosa Bell and Veodis Watkins. She went by the name bell hooks, which she spelled without capitalization. hooks was a professor, feminist, cultural critic, poet, and author of more than 30 books, including Ain't I a Woman, Breaking Bread, and four children's books that include Happy to be Nappy and Be Boy Buzz. She was considered one of the foremost African American intellectuals. hooks was a graduate of Crispus Attucks High School in Hopkinsville, Stanford University (B.A.), the University of Wisconsin at Madison (M.A.), and the University of Santa Cruz (Ph.D.).

After almost 30 years of teaching in California, Connecticut, New York, and Ohio, in 2004 bell hooks returned to Kentucky to join the faculty at Berea College as a Distinguished Professor in Residence of Appalachian Studies. In 2014, belle hooks was inducted into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame. In 2017, bell hooks donated her papers to Berea College (see Berea College video on YouTube). In 2018, she was inducted into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame, January 31, 2018, at the Carnegie Center in Lexington, KY. bell hooks died in Berea, KY, in 2021.

For more see Feminist Writers, ed. by P. Kester-Shelton; The African American Almanac, 8th & 9th ed.; Current Biography: World Authors 1900-1995 (updated 1999) [available via Biography Reference Bank]; bell hooks, feminist scholar, on Connections with Renee Shaw, video #416 [available online]; Clay Risen, "bell hooks, Pathbreaking Black Feminist; dies at 69," The New York Times, 12/15/2021 (online); see "Statement on the death of bell hooks from Berea College," a Berea College webpage (online); see the bell hooks center at Berea College; see finding aid to bell hooks Papers at Berea College.  

Kentucky County & Region

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Read about Hopkinsville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
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Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: Ain't I a woman : Black women and feminism
NKAA Source: Breaking bread : insurgent Black intellectual life
NKAA Source: Happy to be nappy
NKAA Source: Be boy buzz
NKAA Source: Feminist writers
NKAA Source: African American almanac (triennial)
NKAA Source: Biography reference bank (subscription database)
NKAA Source: The New York times (newspaper)

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“hooks, bell [Gloria Jean Watkins],” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed April 21, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-11-12 19:52:59