Guest Editorial: At 88, Toni Morrison personifies the strength of black womanhood

Toni Morrison

Guest Editorial: At 88, Toni Morrison personifies the strength of black womanhood
August 15
00:45 2019

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent

Editor’s Note:
This article was written about Toni Morrison in celebration of her birthday and Women’s History Month. It encapsulates her life and achievements.  She died on August 6, 2019.

At 88, Toni Morrison personifies the strength of black womanhood

Black Girl Magic, Black Girls Rock, and other slogans have surfaced in recent years to describe the power, resilience and steadiness of the black woman. But 88 years ago, a legend was born who would eventually embody the spirit and definition of strength of black womanhood: Toni Morrison.

“Being a black woman writer is not a shallow place, but a rich place to write from. It doesn’t limit my imagination; it expands it,” Morrison famously said.

With each masterful stroke of her pen, typewriter or (later) her computer keyboard, Morrison kept readers of her works and listeners of her words spellbound. “We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives,” she once said.

Born Chloe Ardelia Wofford in Lorain, Ohio, on February 18, 1931, Morrison earned a B.A. in English from Howard University in 1953 and a Master of Arts from Cornell University in 1955.

She later taught at Howard for seven years.

In 1988 Morrison won the American Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her novel, “Beloved,” which was later adapted for a film starring Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover.

Her first novel was “The Bluest Eye” in 1970. Other celebrated novels include “Sula,” “Song of Solomon,” and “God Help the Child.”

The first black woman to ever be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and a Grammy Award, Morrison’s list of accolades are nearly endless.  Just to highlight a few:

Some of those awards include:

1977: National Book Critics Circle Award for “Song of Solomon”

1988: American Book Award for “Beloved”

1988: Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for “Beloved”

1993: Nobel Prize for Literature

2009: Norman Mailer Prize, Lifetime Achievement

2011: Library of Congress Creative Achievement Award for Fiction

2012: Presidential Medal of Freedom

2013: The Nichols-Chancellor’s Medal awarded by Vanderbilt University

2014: Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award given by the National Book Critics Circle

2016 PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction

“At the wisdom-age of 88, the creative courage and genius of Sister Leader Toni Morrison continues to awaken the consciousness of millions of people in America and throughout the world,” said National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.

“Morrison personifies what it means to be a long-distance freedom-fighting author,” Chavis said.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent

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