Pictured above: Gloria Joseph (left, in 2019) and with her partner Audre Lorde (right).
Dr. Gloria I. Joseph is rarely discussed without mention of her former life partner, the prolific and well-respected Black lesbian feminist icon, Audre Lorde. And she’s fine with that. In fact, something Joseph considers to be one of the great achievements of her life is her recent Lambda Literary Award-winning anthology-biography of her late lover, The Wind is Spirit: The Life, Love and Legacy of Audre Lorde, published 25 year after Lorde’s death.
“I was so pleased, honored, and humbled to have accepted the award,” said Joseph in a Facebook post by Hampshire College, where she was a founding faculty member and the cofounder of the Black studies department in the 1970s (a tradition carried on by James Baldwin among others).
“It was one of the proudest moments of my life. When they called my name, all I can remember is floating to the stage while hearing thunderous applause,” Joseph recalled of the event. “Not only had I fulfilled my promise to Audre to tell her life’s story, but in putting together the bio/anthology, I was able to give so many others the opportunity to honor her life in their own words.”
Much more than just a biography by a former partner, The Wind is Spirit was actually a collaborative effort between Joseph and Lorde. The biography was discussed in depth before Lorde’s death due to liver cancer in 1992, while the two were living in together in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Written not only from Joseph’s view, but through over 50 other contributors who have been affected and influenced by Lorde — including Pennsylvania State Poet Laureate Sonia Sanchez and political activist and scholar Angela Davis — the book pays homage to Lorde’s revolutionary spirit, weaving together stories, memories, and photographs from the contributors.
The great niece of a Crucian philanthropist Casper Holstein, Joseph is a renowned scholar who earned her doctorate in educational psychology from Cornell University. She is professor emeritus at Hampshire College having lectured all over the world, and has numerous published writings. Now in her 80s and semi-retired, the lifelong scholar still speaks at colleges, universities, and conventions.