Toni Morrison, the legendary author who created works of literature on the black experience that seemed jumped from the page and to inspire a generation has died. She was 88.
She wrote such classics like “Beloved,” “Song of Solomon,” “The Bluest Eye” and “Sula” while being a single divorced mother of two boys. Born Chloe Ardelia Wofford, Morrison was also the first black woman to receive the Nobel literature prize, awarded in 1993. The Swedish Academy hailed her use of language and called her a “visionary force” in literature. Her novels are now taught in schools around the world.
Growing up in Lorain, Ohio Morrison played and attended school with children of various backgrounds, many of them immigrants. Race and racism came into play later in her life that would be themes that spilled over into her books.
“When I was in first grade, nobody thought I was inferior. I was the only black in the class and the only child who could read,” she once told the Los Angeles Times.
After a stint as an editor early in her career, American writer Toni Morrison understood the publishing industry better than the ordinary writer—but she refused to be defined by the establishment. She wrote her books from a vital, underrepresented point of view. Morrison was one of the few who wrote for an African American audience, and she understood the way language could operate as an oppressive or uplifting force—she refused to let her words be marginalized. After years of fighting to be heard, her novel “Beloved,” in which a mother makes a tragic choice to murder her baby to save the girl from slavery, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1988 and was made into a movie starring Oprah Winfrey.
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Morrison encountered personal tragedy in 1993 when her home burned down, and in 2010 with the death of her son Slade at age 45 from pancreatic cancer. She had collaborated with Slade, a visual artist whom she called a “brilliant writer,” on a series of children’s books.
President Barack Obama awarded Morrison the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012 — the loftiest US honor for a civilian. Among many prestigious academic appointments, she was a professor emeritus at Princeton University — Morrison said writing was the state in which she found true freedom.“I know how to write forever. I don’t think I could have happily stayed here in the world if I didn’t have a way of thinking about it, which is what writing is for me. It’s control. Nobody tells me what to do. It’s mine, it’s free, and it’s a way of thinking. It’s pure knowledge,” Morrison said.Here are some of her quotes:“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”― Toni Morrison“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”― Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon“Anger … it’s a paralyzing emotion … you can’t get anything done. People sort of think it’s an interesting, passionate, and igniting feeling — I don’t think it’s any of that — it’s helpless … it’s absence of control — and I need all of my skills, all of the control, all of my powers … and anger doesn’t provide any of that — I have no use for it whatsoever.”– Toni Morrison