by Rob Taylor Jr., Courier Staff Writer
The New Pittsburgh Courier has learned that Toni Morrison, the first Black woman to receive the Nobel literature prize, died Monday night, Aug. 5, in New York City. She was 88.
“Toni Morrison passed away peacefully last night surrounded by family and friends,” the Morrison family announced. “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.”
Morrison passed away at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.
From “Song of Solomon,” to “Tar Baby,” to “Beloved,” Morrison rose to the top of the literary world and had an unmistakable impact on most everyone, from the common man to the first Black president in the history of the United States.
“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,” President Obama tweeted on the morning of Aug. 6.
President Obama awarded Morrison with a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.
“Beloved” won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1988 and solidified Morrison as one of the best, most influential writers of all-time.
Morrison was born in 1931 in Lorain, Ohio, about 30 miles west of Cleveland. She attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., then worked as a book editor beginning in 1964. According to the Associated Press, she championed emerging fiction authors such as Gayl Jones and Toni Cade Bambara, helped introduce U.S. readers to African writers such as Wole Soyinka, and worked on a memoir by Muhammad Ali and topical books by Angela Davis and Huey Newton.
She had two children from a previous marriage, Slade Morrison and Harold Ford Morrison. Slade Morrison died in 2010 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
On Twitter, Aug. 6, former President Bill Clinton, an ardent supporter of Morrison, called her a “world-class human being. Her words stirred our souls & challenged our consciences to confront injustice, large or small, wherever it exists. How blessed we are that she gave us her gifts. Hillary and I are grateful for her life and the kindness she showed us.”
Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams said on Twitter that Morrison “was a towering intellect, a brilliant scribe of our nation’s complex stories, a heartbreaking journalist of our deepest desires, and a groundbreaking author who destroyed precepts, walls and those who dared underestimate her capacity. Rest well and in peace.”
Follow @NewPghCourier on Twitter https://twitter.com/NewPghCourier