Significant Contemporary American Feminists: A Biographical Sourcebook

By Jennifer Scanlon | Go to book overview

AUDRE LORDE
(1934-1992)

Lara E. Dieckmann

On November 17, 1992, Audre Lorde died of cancer. At the time of her death, she was living on the Caribbean island of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. International in scope, the collective, public mourning that ensued was a testament to the profound impact that Lorde had and continues to have posthumously; hundreds of women's groups, socialist collectives, bookstores, colleges, and universities organized events to grieve her passing and to celebrate her life.

Primarily through black and Third World women's networks, many of the memorials were interconnected. Statements delivered by friends, colleagues, readers, and students at various gatherings were collected, reprinted in programs, and eventually published. The following excerpt from a speech given in London on February 18, 1993, Lorde's birthday, epitomizes the collective response to her death:

It was a strange but not uncharacteristic irony that upon hearing the news of Audre Lorde's passing, each of us turned to that poem, phrase, sentence, or essay from her writings which spoke most personally and powerfully to us. In our individual solitude, we remembered that Audre had shown us how to use the pain and terror of a loss that strikes deep at the heart of our sense of who we are. Her struggle against and with cancer became the metaphor through which we all might learn to share the development of a commitment to breaking the silences which cost nothing less than our lives. (" Audre Lorde" 1993, 7)

Also representative were the many creative projects that were produced in her honor: stage performances, dance pieces, original poetry, and visual art. In 1993, for example, the National Organization for Women dedicated its annual conference to her memory, organizing poetry readings and presentations. A documentary, A Litany for Survival, premiered in January 1995 at the Sundance Film Festival. Ada Gay Griffin and Michelle Parkerson's film--an eight-year project on which Lorde collaborated--focused on Lorde's writing, the difficult decisions

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Significant Contemporary American Feminists: A Biographical Sourcebook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Editorial Board ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Bella Abzug (1920-1998) 1
  • Paula Gunn Allen (1939-) 8
  • Gloria AnzaldÚa (1942-) 14
  • Frances Beale (1940-) 22
  • Rita Mae Brown (1944-) 28
  • Charlotte Bunch (1944-) 36
  • Pat Califia (1954-) 44
  • Judy Chicago (1939-) 51
  • Shirley Chisholm (1924-) 55
  • Esther Ngan-Ling Chow (1943-) 60
  • Pearl Cleage (1948-) 66
  • Kate Clinton (1945- ) 73
  • Mary Daly (1928- ) 79
  • Angela Davis (1944-) 86
  • Shulamith Firestone (1945-) 98
  • Jo Freeman (1945-) 104
  • Betty Friedan (1921-) 111
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-) 118
  • Bell Hooks (1952- ) 125
  • Dolores Huerta (1930-) 133
  • June Jordan (1936-) 138
  • Evelyn Fox Keller (1936-) 145
  • Florynce Kennedy (1916-) 150
  • Audre Lorde (1934-1992) 156
  • Catharine Mackinnon (1946-) 163
  • Olga Madar (1915-1996) 174
  • Wilma Mankiller (1945-) 181
  • Del Martin (1921-) 188
  • Kate Millett (1934- ) 194
  • CherrÍe Moraga (1952- ) 201
  • Robin Morgan (1941-) 206
  • Pauli Murray (1910-1985) 213
  • Eleanor Holmes Norton (1937-) 218
  • Alice Paul (1885-1977) 223
  • Anna Quindlen (1952-) 231
  • Adrienne Rich (1929-) 238
  • Faith Ringgold (1930-) 245
  • Rosemary Ruether (1936-) 251
  • Joanna Russ (1937-) 257
  • Patricia Schroeder (1940-) 264
  • Eleanor Smeal (1939-) 271
  • Barbara Smith (1946-) 279
  • Gloria Steinem (1934-) 283
  • Margo St. James (1937-) 290
  • Alice Walker (1944- ) 297
  • Rebecca Walker (1969-) 305
  • Michele Wallace (1952-) 311
  • Sarah Weddington (1945-) 317
  • Ellen Willis (1941-) 327
  • Selected Bibliography 335
  • Index 341
  • About the Editor and Contributors 355
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