In addition to her being the first black woman to win the Nobel Prize, Morrison was also the first black female editor for Random House between 1967 and 1983.
"We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives." - Toni Morrison.
Nobel Prize for literature winner, outspoke essayist and lyricist and authoress of multiple novels Toni Morrison has sadly passed away following a short battle with an illness. Her family confirmed 'with profound sadness' that Morrison passed at the age of 88.
A statement released by her family stated that Morrison, an "extremely devoted mother, grandmother, and aunt" had "passed away peacefully last night [5 August] surrounded by family and friends. The consummate writer who treasured the written word, whether her own, her students or others, she read voraciously and was most at home when writing," it continued. Although her passing represents a tremendous loss, we are grateful she had a long, well-lived life."
"I tell my students, 'When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.'" #ToniMorrison pic.twitter.com/diASw2xbm9— James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) August 7, 2019
Born Chloe Ardelia Wofford, on 18 February 1931, Morrison was the second of four children. Her mother's imagination and musicality hugely inspired the authoress to pursue a literary career. Morrison would later change her middle name to Anthony when she converted to Catholicism at the age of 12. Friends at Washington University would later shorten it to Toni. After a short marriage to architect Harold Morrison, she joined a writing group, which gave way to her first novel.
Morrison published her first novel, 'The Bluest Eyes' in 1970. She went on to author 11 more novels, including her 1987 book 'Beloved', which told the story of a runaway female slave. The novel was adapted into a film which starred Oprah Winfrey in 1998.
For her contribution to the literary world, Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993. She was described as an author "who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality". Morrison was the first black woman to win a Nobel Prize. In addition to her being the first black woman to win the Nobel Prize, Morrison was also the first black female editor for Random House between 1967 and 1983.
Morrison was honored with the National Book Foundation's Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 1996. She was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2012. Throughout her life, Morrison outspokenly championed writers of color, publishing the likes of Muhammad Ali, Angela Davis, Henry Dumas, and many others.
Amazing photo of Toni Morrison and Angela Davis, NYC, 1974. Photo by Jill Krementz, all rights reserved. pic.twitter.com/8oDb21S1UL— carolynryan (@carolynryan) August 7, 2019
Condolences for Morrison's grieving family came flooding after news of her passing broke. President Obama remembered Morrison as a 'national treasure' who was 'as good as a storyteller, as captivating in person as she was on the page'. Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea also posted a tribute to the great American authoress. He posted an image of the late Morrison with a caption that read: "She brought me knowledge, sadness, joy, and is a part of me forever. You are everything to me Toni."
Toni Morrison was a national treasure, as good a storyteller, as captivating, in person as she was on the page. Her writing was a beautiful, meaningful challenge to our conscience and our moral imagination. What a gift to breathe the same air as her, if only for a while. pic.twitter.com/JG7Jgu4p9t— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 6, 2019
Morrison died at the Montefiore Medical Center in New York. May she rest in peace.