Audre Lorde (1934-1992) was a self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.” Her activism addressed racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia.  Lorde grew up in New York City, the youngest of three daughters to Caribbean immigrant parents. She remembers having a difficult relationship with her parents as a child. It was then that poetry became her voice. By the age of twelve, she was connecting with others who were considered outcasts through her poetry. She graduated from Hunter College High School for the Intellectually Gifted, and while there, was published in Seventeen Magazine. In 1954, Lorde embraced her lesbian orientation and went on to study at Hunter College while also working as a librarian while soaking up the culture of Greenwich Village. After graduating in 1959, she continued her education at Columbia University earning a graduate degree in library science.

After various teaching posts, Lorde co-founded Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, the first U.S. publisher for women of color, with Barbara Smith and Cherrie Moraga. She was among the founders of Women of St. Croix, an organization assisting women who survived sexual abuse and intimate partner violence.

One of Lorde’s most influential works in Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (1984). She emphasizes the need for different groups of people (particularly white women and African-American women) to find common ground in their lived experience, but also to face differences directly, and use them as a source of strength rather than alienation.  Her early critical theories on class, sexuality, gender, age, and race challenge the binary opposition of men and women as being overly simplistic. The summary of her experiences has led to the concept now known as intersectionality. Throughout the years, Lorde continued to write in abundance on feminism and personal identity.

In 1978, Lorde was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy. Unfortunately, the cancer metastasized and On November 17, 1992, she died at the age of 58.


You can help us be even more effective by donating today!