Audre Lorde in mural by Susan Greene
"It is better to speak, remembering we were never meant to survive..."(1 MB mp3)
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Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde (1934 - 1992) was a multi-faceted writer and activist. In her own words, she was a "black lesbian, mother, warrior poet". However, her life was one that could not be summed up in a phrase.

Lorde worked as a librarian while refining her talents as a writer. In 1968, she accepted a teaching position at Tougaloo College in Jackson, Mississippi where the violence that greeted the civil rights movement was close at hand every night. This period cemented the bond between her artistic talents and her dedication to the struggle against injustice.

Lorde went on to provide avenues of expression to future generations of writers by co-founding the Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press. She was at the center of the movement to preserve and celebrate African American culture at a time when the destruction of these institutions was on the rise. Her dedication reached around the world when she formed the Sisterhood in Support of Sisters in South Africa. She was one of the featured speakers at the first national march for gay and lesbian liberation in DC in 1979. In 1989, she helped organize disaster relief efforts for St. Croix in the wake of Hurricane Hugo.

Lorde bravely documented her 14-year battle against the cancer in "The Cancer Journals" and in her book of essays "A Burst of Light". In the latter she wrote: ''The struggle with cancer now informs all my days, but it is only another face of that continuing battle for self-determination and survival that black women fight daily, often in triumph.'' She struggled against disease and a medical establishment that was frequently indifferent to cultural differences and insensitive to women's health issues. She stood in defiance to societal rules that said that she should hide the fact that she had breast cancer.

Late in life, Audre Lorde was given the African name Gamba Adisa, meaning "Warrior: She Who Makes Her Meaning Clear". It is a name that applies to her whole life. Her struggle against opression on many fronts was expressed with a force and clarity that made her a respected voice for women, African Americans, and the Gay and Lesbian community.

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