Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison passed away Monday night in Montefiore Medical Center in New York. She was 88-years old.
Morrison was born Chloe Anthony Wofford on Feb. 8, 1931, in Lorain, Ohio. She graduated from Howard University with a degree in English in 1953 and pursued a Masters of Arts from Cornell University. She completed her masters in 1955. She was also initiated into Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. in 1950 at Howard University’s Alpha Chapter.
From 1989 until her retirement in 2006, Morrison held the Robert F. Goheen Chair in the Humanities Department at prestigious Princeton University. The university, subsequently, dedicated Morrison Hall to the author in November 2017.
She was the modern voice for the Black female experience. Her first book “The Bluest Eye” which detailed a Black girl’s longing for blue eyes was published in 1970. She was 39-years old and a single mother of two children.
Morrison was best known for her highly-acclaimed book “Beloved” which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the American Book Award in 1988. In the riveting novel, Morrison details the struggle of an enslaved Black mother, Margaret, who struggles with bringing her baby girl into slavery or ending her life to save her from bondage. Oprah Winfrey portrayed Margaret in the screen adaptation of the book in 1998.
Morrison often wrote about the complexities of life for Black women. She was adept at capturing the Black female experience and humanizing our sorrows. Her insightful and prolific use of language was unmatched. She was the first black woman to receive the Nobel literature prize when she was awarded the honor in 1993. The Swedish Academy called her a “visionary force.”
In May 2012, she received the prestigious Medal of Freedom from former President Barack Obama. The American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Emerson-Thoreau Medal was also bestowed upon the renowned novelist at the Academy’s headquarters on April 6, 2017.
Before her untimely death, the critically acclaimed documentary Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am, originally released in June, was recently announced for an Aug. 12 screening at the Cane Fire Film Series at the Acadiana Center for the Arts benefiting the Festival of Words Cultural Arts Collective nonprofit.
Her cause of death is unknown but there has been an outpouring of love on social media.
Toni Morrison in 1978 reading the ending of Song of Solomon
"Now he knew why he loved her so. Without ever leaving the ground, she could fly." pic.twitter.com/APWVWVcSth
— Andrew Gauthier (@AndrewGauthier) August 6, 2019
That was the gift. Her writing spoke to the potential of any writer in any language. If her books could make you feel the way they made you feel, then surely, there must be others out there somewhere. A spark of curiosity grown to an ultimate creative flame. She set me on fire.
— Ashley C. Ford (@iSmashFizzle) August 6, 2019