Audre Lorde (born Audrey Geraldine Lorde), was an African American writer, feminist, lesbian, organizer, mother and civil rights activist. Her poems and prose addressed human rights, Black feminist/queer perspectives, erotic and spiritual essence, women of color identities and intersectional liberation work. She articulated the interlocking nature of oppression systems, and their impact upon marginalized peoples like no one before her.
She was born February 18, 1934 in New York City. Beginning in the 60’s, her work was published in Black literary magazines and anthologies such as Langston Hughes’ 1962 New Negro Poets, USA. She published several volumes of poems including The First Cities, Cables To Rage and From A Land Where Other People Live, which was nominated for a National Book Award for poetry. Her 1976 work Coal garnered heightened attention within the Black Arts Movement distinguished for its intersectional framing of women’s identity. Among her most influential works was The Black Unicorn volume (1978) which explored holding multiple identities “I who am bound by my mirror / as well as my bed / see causes in color/ as well as sex”. The Cancer Journals (1980) explored insights drawn from her experiences living with breast cancer using passages from her diary. Her widely acclaimed Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (1984) included one of her most well-known essays “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House”.
In 1991, she became the poet laureate of the State of New York. Her last collection of poems, The Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance-Poems 1987-1992 was published in 1993. Shortly before her death, Audre Lorde took on the African name Gambda Adisa, which means “she who makes her meaning known”. She died November 17, 1992 in St. Croix, where she was living with Gloria T. Joseph.
We celebrate the magnificent life and contributions of this genius as a model for our liberation work today.
© 2016 Rustin Lorde Breakfast Southern Unity Movement