Perseverance

“Beloved” Author, Toni Morrison, Dies Peacefully at 88

HURRICANE RELIEF CONCERT
Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison reads during Jazz at Lincoln Center's Higher Ground Hurricane Relief Benefit Concert, Saturday, Sept.17, 2005, in New York City. All proceeds from the concert which was broadcast on PBS, will be donated to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. (AP Photo/Jeff Christensen)
JEFF CHRISTENSEN/ASSOCIATED PRESS

“Beauty was not simply something to behold; it was something one could do,” Toni Morrison wrote in her 1970 novel “The Bluest Eye.” Morrison lived by that very sentiment, putting pen to paper and creating beauty and inspiration through her words. Today, fans mourn Morrison’s death, while also celebrating her remarkable accomplishments in conquering racial and gender divides.

According to a family statement, Morrison passed away Monday evening at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, following a brief illness. Knopf Publishing confirms that the author died peacefully in her sleep, surrounded by family and loved ones.

Morrison lived an extraordinary life, breaking boundaries and challenging the industry with both her words and actions. Born in Lorain, Ohio, she attended Howard University, where she immersed herself in the arts. There she met Harold Morrison, a young architect from Jamaica who taught at the university. After marrying in 1958, the pair had two children, Harold and Slade. The couple divorced in 1964.

That same year, Morrison made history at Random House, becoming the first African-American woman to work as an editor for the prestigious publishing company. For years she worked alongside esteemed authors until she published her first novel, “The Bluest Eye,” six years after becoming a textbook editor. Nearly a dozen novels followed her first, including her award-winning “Beloved,” which earned her a Pulitzer Prize and was later adapted into a film starring Oprah Winfrey. Morrison also authored several critically acclaimed nonfiction essays including “Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination,” as well as a play entitled “Dreaming Emmett.” The versatile author also worked alongside her son Slade Morrison in co-authoring numerous children's books.

In 1993, Morrison made history once again, becoming the first African-American woman to receive a Nobel Prize in Literature. A press release on the Nobel Prize website describes Morrison as “a literary artist of the first rank. She delves into the language itself, a language she wants to liberate from the fetters of race. And she addresses us with the lustre of poetry.”

Remembering Toni Morrison


Morrison Gustaf
1  of  5
Morrison Gustaf
American writer Toni Morrison receives the Nobel Prize in literature from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, right, in the Concert Hall in Stockholm, Sweden, Friday, Dec. 10, 1993. Morrison, who was born in Lorain, Ohio in 1931 and teaches at Princeton University, N.J., is the first black woman to receive this prize. (AP Photo)
AP
TONI MORRISON
2  of  5
TONI MORRISON
Author Toni Morrison poses with a copy of her book "Beloved" in New York City in Sept. 1987. (AP Photo/David Bookstaver)
DAVID BOOKSTAVER/ASSOCIATED PRESS
TONI MORRISON
3  of  5
TONI MORRISON
FILE - In this Nov. 25, 2005 file photo, author Toni Morrison listens to Mexicos Carlos Monsivais during the Julio Cortazar professorship conference at the Guadalajara's University in Guadalajara City, Mexico. The Nobel Prize-winning author has died. Publisher Alfred A. Knopf says Morrison died Monday, Aug. 5, 2019 at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. She was 88. (AP Photo/Guillermo Arias, File)
GUILLERMO ARIAS/AP
Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner
4  of  5
Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner
CHICAGO - OCTOBER 20: Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winning author Toni Morrison (R) talks with alk show queen Oprah Winfrey during the annual Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner October 20, 2010, in Chicago, Illinois. The Carl Sandburg Literary Award is presented each year to an author whose significant body of work has enhanced the public’s awareness of the written word. (Photo by Frank Polich/Getty Images)***LOCAL CAPTION***Oprah Winfrey;Toni Morrison
Frank Polich/Getty Images
President Obama Awards Presidential Medals Of Freedom
5  of  5
President Obama Awards Presidential Medals Of Freedom
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 29: Novelist Toni Morrison is presented with a Presidential Medal of Freedom by U.S. President Barack Obama during an East Room event May 29, 2012 at the White House in Washington, DC. The Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, is presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Alex Wong/Getty Images
1  of  5
Morrison Gustaf
American writer Toni Morrison receives the Nobel Prize in literature from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, right, in the Concert Hall in Stockholm, Sweden, Friday, Dec. 10, 1993. Morrison, who was born in Lorain, Ohio in 1931 and teaches at Princeton University, N.J., is the first black woman to receive this prize. (AP Photo)
AP
1 of 5

Her works, which emerged during the peak of the Black Arts Movement, expose readers to the harsh realities of segregation and those communities impacted by inequality. In demystifying this reality, her novels have helped open the eyes of many. In 2012, former President Barack Obama acknowledged this, awarding the novelist the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and highlighting the meaningful impact her books have had on the country and its perception of racial and gender equality.

Morrison shared her perspective of the African-American experience not only in her written works, but also through her lectures at Texas Southern University, the State University of New York, and ultimately Princeton, where she retired from teaching in 2006.

Her legacy lives on in her most recent book, “God Help the Child,” published in 2015, and in a new documentary titled “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am,” which immortalizes the importance of her life’s work.

As legions of fans mourn the loss of the “Beloved” author, they can perhaps find comfort in a passage from Morrison’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech: “We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.”

For more on Toni Morrison’s inspirational life see:

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/toni-morrison-died-nobel-prize-winning-author-dead-age-88-cause-of-death-unknown-2019-08-06/
and
https://www.foxnews.com/us/nobel-laureate-toni-morrison-has-died-at-88

Share
Comments

Latest Stories

October 18, 2019
After a violent insurgence of illegal loggers decimated their lands, a group of 15 fearless Purhépecha women led a revolution that brought an indigenous Mexican culture—and its beloved wild mushrooms—back from the brink.
3 Min Read
October 15, 2019
The New York Public Library is bringing iconic literature into the 21st century, putting classics like "Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland" and “The Raven” into the hands of young readers via something that’s likely in their hands already: their smartphones.
3 Min Read
October 14, 2019
Tom Szaky has a revolutionary vision to solve the world’s disposable plastics problem—but it’s not by recycling things. It’s by not creating trash in the first place.
2 Min Read