Born in 1934 in New York City, Audre Lorde was the daughter of Carribbean immigrants. Her mother, of mixed-race ancestry, found pride in that she was fair enough to pass for white. Lorde's father had a browner complexion.
Lorde was nearsighted to the point of being legally blind. Still, she excelled in school. After graduating from high school, Lorde became estranged from her family. She went on to study at Hunter College.
In 1954, during a pivotal year abroad in Mexico, Lorde came out as a lesbian poet.
After graduating from college, Lorde earned a master's in Library Science in 1961 from Columbia.
Soon thereafter she married a lawyer with whom she had two children. The marriage ended in divorce in 1970. During this time, Lorde worked as a librarian and was actively publishing her poetry and working for civil rights causes. She was also an educator.
She published her first volume of poems in 1968: First Cities. She published several more collections including: From a Land Where Other People Live (1973), Coal (1976), The Black Unicorn (1978), and Our Dead Behind Us (1986). She also published two memoirs: The Cancer Journals (1980) and A Burst of Light (1988). In 1982, Lorde's published her novel Zami: A New Spelling of My Name.
Lorde's work and writing focused on the necessity of claiming all of one's complicated identity, and brought new voice to issues of race, sexuality and culture. She once wrote: “If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.”
She received many awards during her lifetime including a nomination for a National Book Award in 1974 for From a Land Where Other People Live, Broadside Poets Award, Detroit, 1975, Borough of Manhattan President's Award for literary excellence, 1987, and the Walt Whitman Citation of Merit, poet laureate of New York, 1991 among others.
Lorde died in 1992 of cancer. She chronicled her bout with the disease in her writing in The Cancer Journals.
Mixed Experience History Month is the annual blog post series created by writer Heidi Durrow celebrating the history of the Mixed experience. Established in 2007, Mixed Experience History Month is an effort to highlight the long history of folks involved in the Mixed experience. Please look for more profiles of people, places and events of the Mixed experience every weekday of May at Lightskinned-ed Girl, the blog! Thanks for reading. And check out some of the previous year's profiles: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011. Copyright 2012.