Audre Lorde was an American writer, radical feminist, womanist, and lesbian and civil rights activist. Lorde described herself as a "black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet". Her poems and essays focused on civil rights issues, feminism, and the expression of black female identity. She’s perhaps best known for the technical mastery and emotional expression in her poetry, particularly the works that express anger and outrage at the civil and social injustices she observed throughout her life. She was a champion of intersectional feminism and life-long explorer of her own identity and the universal identity of African-American women. Lorde battled cancer for fourteen years. She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1978 and had a mastectomy. Six years later, she was diagnosed with liver cancer. She wrote The Cancer Journals, which won the ALA Gay Caucus Book of the Year Award in 1981. Her legacy is staggering. The Audre Lorde Project, founded in 1994, is a Brooklyn-based organization for queer people of color focused on community organizing and radical nonviolent activism around progressive issues within New York City. The project’s particular interests include queer and transgender communities, AIDS and HIV activism, pro-immigrant activism, prison reform, and organizing among youth of color. The Audre Lorde Award is an annual literary prize started in 2001 and presented by Publishing Triangle to honor works of lesbian poetry. She said many things, but this is one of my favorites: “When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.”
Happy birthday, Ms. Lorde.