From the 1970s till her passing in 1992, the renowned author, poet, and activist Audre Lorde was such a towering figure in social justice communities—especially among fellow Black lesbians—that her presence (and loss) is still felt a generation later. Author of Zami, Sister Outsider, The Cancer Journals, and many other works, Lorde is credited with some of the most important theorizing of intersectional feminism.
Lorde’s death had an immediate impact on activists and fellow intellectuals. In 1993, the pioneering Black literary scholar Barbara Christian remembered Lorde’s life and work and anticipated her legacy in the Women’s Review of Books.
“Audre left for us her work—words that many African American women had been too afraid to speak,” Christian wrote.
We had been taught that silence was golden, that it could protect you. Yet, as our daily lives and statistics proclaimed, we were steadily being attacked from within our homes as well as from without. Audre Lorde refused to be silenced, refused to be limited to any one category, insisted on being all that she was: poet, black, mother, lesbian, feminist, warrior, activist, woman.
Christian also anticipated Lorde’s intellectual, artistic, and political legacy:
A poet-thinker, Audre enlarged the race-feminist theory of that period, so much so that the concept of difference as a creative force is today as “natural” a part of our world as the notion that oppressions exist.
Christian’s memorial also includes personal memories of befriending Lorde during the Civil Rights Movement as well as excerpts of several poems.