Black History

Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde was a leading African-American poet and essayist, who voiced the issues of race, gender, and sexuality during the 1970s and 80s.

When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” -Aundre Lorde

Audre Lorde was a leading African-American poet and essayist, who voiced the issues of race, gender, and sexuality during the 1970s and 80s. She was born on February 18, 1934, in New York City. Her love for poetry started at a young age, and she started writing as a teenager. She attended Hunter College while working to support herself through school. She graduated in 1959 and went to get her master’s degree in library science from Columbia University in 1961. Lorde worked as a librarian in Mount Vernon, New York for the most of 1960s and in 1962 she married Edwin Rollins.

In 1968, Lorde’s life drastically changed. Her first volume of poetry, First Cities, was published and she also left her job as head librarian. Lorde also taught a poetry workshop at Tougaloo College in Mississippi. While there, she witnessed first-hand the racial tension in the South. In 1970, she published her 2nd volume of poetry, Cables to Range, which took on themes of love, deceit, and family. Later in the years, she started teaching at John Jay College and Hunter College in New York. Lorde published two more volumes of poetry in 1973 and 1975, as well as a publications with a major book company in 1976. In 1978, she published The Black Unicorn, where she explored her African heritage.

In terms of Lorde’s nonfiction work, she’s remembered for, The Cancer Journals, where she documented her struggle with breast cancer. The cancer later spread to her liver, and she wrote, A Burst of Light. She battled cancer for more than a decade, and spent her last few years in U.S. Virgin Islands. Around this time she took on the African name, Gamba Adisa, meaning “she who makes her meaning clear.” Lorde died on November 17, 1992, on the island of St. Croix, the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Over her long career, Lorde received numerous accolades, including an American Book Award for A Burst of Light in 1989. She is remembered today for being a great warrior poet who valiantly fought many personal and political battles with her words.

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