Google is turning the lens of its annual Black History Month Doodle on Audre Lorde, an internationally acclaimed poet and civil rights champion. The self-described “Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet” is best known for writings reflecting her hatred of racial and sexual prejudice.
Google dedicated a slideshow Doodle on Thursday to mark the 87th birthday of Lorde, whose prose also celebrated Black identity and rejected the notion that similar identities were required for unity. The slideshow, illustrated by Los Angeles-based guest artist Monica Ahanonu, features an excerpt from her speech Learning From the 60s, which she delivered during a Malcolm X celebration at Harvard University in 1982.
Born in New York in 1934 to Caribbean immigrants, Lorde published her first poem at the age of 15 in Seventeen magazine after her high school’s literary magazine rejected it as inappropriate. She participated in poetry workshops and after graduating from Hunter College and the Columbia University School of Library Science, she became an English professor and worked as a librarian while writing poetry.
Her first volume of poetry, The First Cities, was published in 1968 and was soon followed by 1970’s Cables to Rage, which explores her anger at social and personal injustice. It’s also noteworthy for being her first poetic confirmation of her lesbianism.
Her 1973 collection From a Land Where Other People Live, which was nominated for a National Book Award, explores anger, loneliness and injustice, as well as her identity as a Black woman, mother and lover.
She was awarded the American Book Award in 1989 and was later honored as the poet laureate of New York State through the Walt Whitman Citation of Merit in 1991.
Lorde was also active in literary and political organizations, including co-founding Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, which provided support to Black feminist writers, and Sisterhood in Support of Sisters in South Africa, which aided women living under apartheid.
In 1980’s The Cancer Chronicles, Lorde chronicled the early stages of her 14-year battle with cancer, which would take her life in 1992.
In addition to her volumes of poetry, Lorde left a long legacy. Named in her honor the annual Audre Lorde Award honors the work of lesbian poetry. The Audre Lorde Project is an organization for LGBT people of color that focuses on progressive issues in New York City, such as LGBT communities, immigrant activism and prison reform.