Who Was Audre Lorde? Google Doodle Celebrates Black, Lesbian, Feminist Poet

Audre Lorde—poet, professor, feminist and civil rights champion—is celebrated in today's Google Doodle, in honor of Black History Month. Lorde was a key figure in the Black and LGBTQ+ movements of the 20th century and used her poetry to fight discrimination.

She was born Audrey Geraldine Lorde, on February 18, 1934, to Caribbean immigrants in Harlem, New York City. The young Audre was taught to read and write by her neighborhood librarian Augusta Baker, who had a great influence on her.

Lorde became interested in poetry at an early age and would memorize poems to recite when asked how she was feeling. When she could not find a poem that expressed her mood, she began writing her own, around the age of 12 or 13.

She became the first Black student at Hunter High School—a public school for gifted girls—and, at the age of 15, had her love poem "Spring" published in Seventeen magazine.

Lorde earned her BA at Hunter College, followed by a master's in library science at Columbia. She became a librarian and English teacher in New York public schools and continued to write poetry throughout the 1960s. Lorde had two children during this period with husband Edward Rollins, before their divorce in 1970.

In 1968, Lorde published her first collection of poems, "The First Cities," emerging as an important voice in the fight against homophobia and racism. She famously described herself as "Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet" and published many works on identity and sexuality while fighting for social and racial justice.

Around the same time, she met and fell in love with Frances Clayton, who became her partner until her death in 1992.

Lorde spent time in West Germany from 1984, teaching poetry at the Free University in Berlin, organizing the local feminist movement and becoming influential in the Afro-German movement of the 1980s.

She also wrote essays and speeches. One key speech, "Learning from the 60s," explored the intersections of gender, class, race and sexuality. In it, she wrote: "There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle, because we do not lead single-issue lives. Our struggles are particular, but we are not alone.

"What we must do is commit ourselves to some future that can include each other and to work toward that future with the particular strengths of our individual identities."

This is the quote featured in the Google Doodle, illustrated by Monica Ahanonu.

Lorde believed that understanding how an individual's identity is made up of several layers and experiences was key to progressing in the battle against oppression. As a result, she is often regarded as an influential voice on intersectionality and its role within feminism.

She was awarded the American Book Award in 1989 and honored as the poet laureate of New York State through the Walt Whitman Citation of Merit in 1991. She died on November 17, 1992.

Lorde's children, Elizabeth Lorde-Rollins and Jonathan Rollins, told Google: "Audre Lorde was a complicated and passionate woman. She was as passionate an educator as she was a fighter.

"It was very important to her that her work be useful—and she would be enormously gratified to know that her words are now used as a rallying cry of people fighting for justice all over the world. She also loved life: she loved to dance and to hunt for rocks. She loved candy bars. And she loved the people close to her, fiercely."

Audre Lorde Google Doodle
Audre Lorde, feminist and poet, is celebrated in today's Google Doodle in honor of U.S. Black History month. Google Doodle/Monica Ahanonu