Women Who Changed the World: Audre Lorde

The twenty-ninth edition of Oh Comely celebrates change in all forms. Every Wednesday for the next four weeks, we'll be showcasing women who changed the world with their creativity, starting with Audre Lorde.

“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.”

Audre identified as a “black feminist lesbian mother poet” not only because she happened to be all of those things, but because girls born to Caribbean migrants in 1930s Harlem weren’t encouraged to carve out identities all their own.

Entering the world partially blind and with initial learning difficulties, Audre penned her own unapologetic stanzas from around the age of twelve and went on to publish sixteen revelatory works on the nature of identity, whether enforced or chosen. Living her truth in a society fearful of difference, she established herself as a champion of the civil rights and women’s movements, laying bare the interlocking nature of oppression. Towards the end of her fourteen-year battle with cancer, she took the name Gamba Adisa in an African naming ceremony. It translates as, “warrior: she who makes her meaning known.”

You can find more of Cristina BanBan's beautiful illustrations of women who changed the world in Issue 29. Inside, we also pluck pennies from pavements, watch caterpillars burst from cocoons, and talk personal turning points. Get your hands on a copy here! More information about Audre's life and legacy can be found in Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde

Illustration: Cristina BanBan