Google is turning the lens of its annual Black History Month Doodle on Audre Lorde, an internationally acclaimed poet and civil rights champion. The self-described “Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet” is best known for writings reflecting her hatred of racial and sexual prejudice.
Thursday’s slideshow Google Doodle marks the 87th birthday of Lorde, whose prose also celebrated Black identity and rejected the notion that similar identities were required for unity. The slideshow, illustrated by Los Angeles-based guest artist Monica Ahanonu, features an excerpt from her speech Learning From the 60s, which she delivered during a Malcolm X celebration at Harvard University in 1982.
(Google has been spotlighting the artistry and innovation of Blacks across several of its products throughout the month of February. Read more on that lower down.)
Born in New York in 1934 to Caribbean immigrants, Lorde published her first poem at the age of 15 in Seventeen magazine after her high school’s literary magazine rejected it as inappropriate. She participated in poetry workshops, and after graduating from Hunter College and the Columbia University School of Library Science, she became an English professor and worked as a librarian while writing poetry.
Her first volume of poetry, The First Cities, was published in 1968 and was soon followed by 1970’s Cables to Rage, which explores her anger at social and personal injustice. It’s also noteworthy for being her first poetic confirmation of her lesbianism.
Her 1973 collection From a Land Where Other People Live, which was nominated for a National Book Award, explores anger, loneliness and injustice, as well as her identity as a Black woman, mother and lover.
She was awarded the American Book Award in 1989 and was later honored as the poet laureate of New York State through the Walt Whitman Citation of Merit in 1991.
Lorde was also active in literary and political organizations, including co-founding Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, which provided support to Black feminist writers, and Sisterhood in Support of Sisters in South Africa, which aided women living under apartheid.
In 1980’s The Cancer Chronicles, Lorde chronicled the early stages of her 14-year battle with cancer, which would take her life in 1992.
In addition to her volumes of poetry, Lorde left a long legacy. Named in her honor the annual Audre Lorde Award honors the work of lesbian poetry. The Audre Lorde Project is an organization for LGBT people of color that focuses on progressive issues in New York City, such as LGBT communities, immigrant activism and prison reform.
Celebrating Black History Month across Google
Google has spread Black History Month content across its array of products, including on YouTube, which has celebrated the influence of Black voices, stories, music and culture. Every Monday in February, YouTube has replaced its Doodle — known as the Yoodle — with artwork created by Black artists that celebrates Black creativity on science, arts, motion and history.
On Feb. 26, YouTube Originals will celebrate the Black Renaissance, a special featuring Black figures who have helped shape history, including former President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama and Stacey Abrams.
The Black History and Culture hub on Google Arts and Culture has presented the collections and stories of more than 80 partners. This year, Google celebrates Black creativity on a new Black History Month chapter page featuring six new partners: the Soul’s Grown Deep Foundation, the Kinsey African American Art & History Collection, the Greenwood Art Project, the National Jazz Museum in Harlem and the International African American Museum. New original works by Wisconsin poet laureate Dasha Kelly Hamilton and photographer Misan Harriman are also included.
Black arts and culture is being celebrated throughout the month on Google Play and Google TV, spotlighting apps created by Black innovators and iconic Black films and TV shows such as Black Love Stories and Revolutionary Black ’90s Sitcoms.
Google partnered with mixed-media artist Amani Lewis on artwork that integrates products made and sold from Black-owned businesses, including Jungalow, Blk & Bold, Diarrablu, Lonéz Scents, Coloured Raine and 3rd Eye View. Items in the painting can be purchased directly on the merchants’ own sites or through the Google Shopping tab.
Google is highlighting the work of young Black artists, such as Briana Peppers, Jade Purple Brown and Pink Lomein, among others, as they show support for their favorite Black-owned businesses. You can follow along on Twitter to see these specially commissioned works of art as they go live throughout Black History Month.
Google is working to help raise awareness to some of the challenges Black artists face in their daily lives. Tune into this featured interview with Jillian Mercado, founder of Black Disabled Creatives, and Brent Lewis, co-founder of Diversify Photo, as they discuss the adversities of Black and disabled Black artists.
Starting Thursday, Chrome users can customize their browser with themes designed by six contemporary Black artists, representing the ways the Jamaican people use Chrome, from finding new information to connecting with others. Google has also partnered with Jamaican-born artist Melissa Koby to create Pixel phone wallpapers depicting Black people around the world.
“Black artistry continues to influence every aspect of American culture, and we hope you’ll join us in amplifying these powerful voices,” Google said.