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.
Manning Marable was born in Dayton, Ohio on May 13, 1950. In 1968, he served as the local black newspaper's correspondent and marched along with thousands of others during the funeral procession for Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. He received a bachelor's degree from Earlham College in Indiana, a master's degree from the University of Wisconsin and a doctorate from the University of Maryland. He wrote around 20 books during his lifetime including How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America, The Great Wells of Democracy: The Meaning of Race in American Life, Speaking Truth to Power: Essays on Race, Resistance and Radicalism, and Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention. He was a professor of African American studies, history, political science and public affairs at Columbia University. He died from complications of pneumonia on April 1, 2011 at the age of 60.