WASHINGTON, DC — Last night, just ahead of National Author’s Day, the Senate passed a resolution U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced to honor the life, work, and legacy of Toni Morrison, one of America’s most formidable scholars, educators, and authors. For more than five decades, Morrison, a Lorain, OH native, captivated audiences, sharing stories through the African American lens with her command of language and intellectual prowess. The passage of this resolution was made possible with the support and involvement of Toni Morrison’s family and loved ones.
As an African American author, Morrison blazed the trail for many, authoring 11 novels as well several children’s books and collections of essays. In 1988, she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Beloved and the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature, which recognizes her as an author “who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.” Morrison was also honored with the 1996 National Book Foundation’s Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, and in 2012, President Barack Obama presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“Toni Morrison’s body of work changed America. She illustrated palpable narrations of the depth and meaning of the lived experiences of the oppressed,” Brown said. “Morrison stood firm in the power of language, and her work continues to be a source of empowerment to this day. As eloquently stated by Morrison herself, ‘We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our own lives.’”
“Toni Morrison was a literary giant and a daughter of Lorain, Ohio, but as the first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, she was also a trailblazer who left an indelible mark on American history. I’m proud that the Senate has passed this bipartisan resolution honoring her contributions to America’s rich literary tradition,” Portman said.
“We are humbled that the Senate has taken this tribute to honor our mother, grandmother and aunt. While we miss her terribly, we are awed and grateful for this truly extraordinary appreciation for her life and work,” Said Ford Morrison, son of Toni Morrison.
“As the American author society whose mission has been to support the study and appreciation of Toni Morrison's life and works for the last 26 years and as one of the institutional stewards of her remarkable literary legacy for future generations of scholars and readers, the Toni Morrison Society wholeheartedly endorses this Resolution. This recognition acknowledges the profound contribution that Toni Morrison, the 1993 Nobel Laureate in Literature, has made to the state of Ohio, to American Letters, and to arts and culture throughout the world,” said Carolyn Denard, PhD, Founder and Board Chair of The Toni Morrison Society
“On behalf of the Howard University family, I thank the Ohio delegation for recognizing the life of our mother, sister, friend in belles-lettres, and distinguished alumna, Toni Morrison, with this fitting tribute. Morrison discovered her life’s mission early as an English major at Howard. The words she penned masterfully and creatively seek the truth, explore the African American journey, challenge our consciousness and shatter the barriers of institutional racism. It is fitting that Morrison was the first African American woman to earn the Nobel Prize in literature and later became the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the country’s highest honor. Morrison’s literary works are her gifts to society today, tomorrow and for generations to come, as her words will live on to inspire us all. She is our beloved,” said Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D.,MBA, President of Howard University
“Toni Morrison’s brilliant vision, inspired creativity, and unique voice reshaped American culture and the world’s literary tradition. Her mark on our University and the nation is impossible to measure, and Princeton would like to thank the Senate for honoring the memory of this incredible American. Though she is no longer with us, we are confident that her magnificent works will continue to light a path forward for generations of readers and authors. To us she was not only a groundbreaking writer, but a teacher, mentor, scholar, colleague, and neighbor, and we miss her dearly,” said Christopher L. Eisgruber, President of Princeton University
Text of the Senate resolution can be found HERE.