Nobel Prize in Literature 1993.

February 18, 1931 – August 5, 2019

11 novels. Nine works of nonfiction. Over 20 awards. 88 years. We’re privileged to continue to have her thousands of masterfully written pages, but there’s much to this gifted life that simply can’t be quantified... The magnitude of her influence on Black writers and readers. The radical mind-shifts she inspired. The full weight of her name: Chloe Anthony Wofford Morrison.

We lost Toni Morrison on August 5, 2019. She was a towering figure, a literary legend. She shook the world with her boldness—staunch championing of fellow authors; refusal, for even a second, to play patty-cake with racism; outright rejection of being ruled by the white gaze; and sharp, unflinching words in the face of Black pain, or any other facet of the Black experience she chose to explore. Her pen didn’t let up when it rounded a corner to find anger or ache. In her work, there is both beauty and bite. There is a celebration and affirmation of Blackness. And Black she was, without apology. She welcomed the term “Black writer,” writing for Black people and Black lives as a forthright, career-defining art. Her work was widely read and adored by readers of all races, but her stories remained Black and their effects are most felt in the stories we tell of her now. Stories of Black women who recall being fully seen and cherished, and fittingly described on the pages of books like Sula. Stories of those shaken to tears and forced to face cultural realities laid bare after reading The Bluest Eye. Stories of turmoil—and, eventually, deep thought and reverence—from those who read Beloved. Stories from anyone at any time who picked up of one of Toni Morrison’s books and broke away from cookie-cutter literature, through characters whose families and lives looked nothing like their own.

Fred Anderson
Former Co-founder and Director of The Society for the Promotion of Quebec Black Artists