Bell Hooks was born Gloria Watkins on September 25, 1952. She grew up in a small Southern community that gave her a sense of belonging as well as a sense of racial separation. She has degrees from Stanford University, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of California at Santa Cruz. She has served as a noted activist and social critic and has taught at numerous colleges. Hooks uses her great-grandmother's name to write under as a tribute to her ancestors. Hooks writes daring and controversial works that explore African-American female identities. In works such as Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism and Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black, she points out how feminism works for and against black women. Oppressed since slavery, black women must overcome the dual odds of race and gender discrimination to come to terms with equality and self-worth.