This week we lost another legend: Nobel Prize winning novelist Toni Morrison died Monday (August 5) in Montefiore Medical Center in New York. She was 88.
A rep from the publishing company Knopf confirmed her death saying that the “Song of Solomon” author passed after suffering from a “short illness,” but died peacefully, surrounded by loved ones,” Vulture reported.
Born Chloe Anthony Wofford on February 18, 1931, in Lorain, Ohio, Morrison was 40-years-old when she published her first novel, “The Bluest Eye.” From there, her career skyrocketed, writing nearly two-dozen books (fiction and nonfiction) including her post-slavery ghost drama “Beloved,” which made her the first African-American to win a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. That, and it was turned into a movie by Oprah Winfrey and Jonathan Demme in 1998.
Some of her other noted novels included “Tar Baby,” “Sula,” Love and “Paradise.”
In addition to winning countless awards including the Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters and the Pulitzer Prize Nobel Laureate, in 2012, President Barack Obama presented Morrison with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, LitHub.com noted.
When it came to depicting Black life on the page, Morrison had an incredible gift of conveying the complexity of our lives—the good, the bad and the ugly—with mesmerizing and unforgettable prose. She was also never one to subscribe to respectability politics in her work making sure she tackled sexism, sexual assault, racism and class in her texts.
Outside of writing, “Morrison was known for her groundbreaking contributions as an editor at Random House from 1967 to 1983. She was the first African-American woman to hold an editorial position in the company’s history, working with writers like Gayl Jones, Toni Cade Bambara and Angela Davis. Morrison also held teaching positions at Howard University, Yale, Bard College, SUNY Purchase, Rutgers, and Princeton,” LitHub.com wrote.
In a statement, Morrison’s family said: “It is with profound sadness we share that, following a short illness, our adored mother and grandmother, Toni Morrison, passed away peacefully last night surrounded by family and friends.”
Adding, “She was an extremely devoted mother, grandmother, and aunt who reveled in being with her family and friends. 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. Although her passing represents a tremendous loss, we are grateful she had a long, well lived life.”
As news of Morrison’s death hit, Black women joined forces on social media to mourn our beloved literary hero, pay homage to her legacy and to share some of the prolific author’s most popular quotes.
Rest in power Toni.
Rest In Power Queen! Black Women Mourn The Death Of Toni Morrison was originally published on hellobeautiful.com
She made me understand“writer” was a fine profession. I grew up wanting to be only her. Dinner with her was a night I will never forget. Rest, Queen. “Toni Morrison, seminal author who stirringly chronicled the Black American experience, dies” https://t.co/S6qxix5OCj— shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) August 6, 2019
“We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.”— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) August 6, 2019
Holding all those touched by Toni Morrison in my heart today. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/2jkAvtaErK
Toni Morrison’s eulogy for James Baldwin is one of the most beautiful pieces of language ever put on paper. And everything she said about him applies to her. She gifted us with language, with courage, and with tenderness. She crowned us. https://t.co/qPTkf2JEGZ— Evette Dionne (@freeblackgirl) August 6, 2019
Toni 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. pic.twitter.com/nMkxXRtEoz— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) August 6, 2019
Literally one of the greatest minds of our time. Of all time. She carved space for so many of us to feel more at home in our existence.— alanna (@AlannaBennett) August 6, 2019
I keep looking for words to say but she said all of them better. She made all of us better.
Love these images of Toni Morrison.— Shelby Ivey Christie (@bronze_bombSHEL) August 6, 2019
She was out here in a silky slip dress, no bra, rocking an afro living her best life in a New York disco party. 1974. pic.twitter.com/alB2MqLJfJ
Words are not enough to describe the remarkable life of the iconic Toni Morrison. As a young black girl trying to find myself her literary genius changed and guided my young life. Rest in Power. https://t.co/lS0jEveBFR— Karine Jean-Pierre (@K_JeanPierre) August 6, 2019
i read the bluest eye when i was 11, at my older sister's recommendation. she's seven years older than me and i would've done anything to feel connected to her. but by introducing me to toni morrison, i became connected to so, so much more. rest in peace. https://t.co/rwqoVawAwU— zoë (@zoe_alliyah) August 6, 2019
“if you can only be tall because somebody’s on their knees, you have a serious problem.” - toni morrison pic.twitter.com/MEIt2iEynH— nadirah (@hinadirah) August 6, 2019
"I tell my students, ‘When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else."— Maybe: Camonghne Felix (@CAMONGHNE) August 6, 2019
- Toni Morrison pic.twitter.com/786o989Fjm
To read Toni Morrison as a young woman was to know the power of the voices and stories of black women, and why it is so important for us to feel and be seen. She was a gift we didn’t deserve, and yet her loss today feels unfair. Rest well, faithful servant. pic.twitter.com/4KC6rLkWMx— Goodnight, Books 📚 (@emarvelous) August 6, 2019
Not only did Toni Morrison write for & about Black women, she cultivated & nurtured friendships with Black women writers.— Black Women Radicals (@blkwomenradical) August 6, 2019
Of all things, Toni Morrison catalyzed community — a community for Black women writers to be seen, heard, felt & read. #blackwomenradicals pic.twitter.com/DTFkDGjinU
Thank you Toni Morrison for sharing your many gifts with us. “You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.” - Toni Morrison Song of Solomon— Tamron Hall (@tamronhall) August 6, 2019
✨my soul aches, mama— TAYLOR MF'N CRUMPTON (@taylorcrumpton) August 6, 2019
thank you for your love, toni morrison
rest in love and peace
you were our architect
every piece of you lives in the hearts of Black womxn creatives ✨ pic.twitter.com/WeRlxEGQ0Z
Every black woman who dare deem her words important enough to publish is Toni Morrison’s legacy. pic.twitter.com/gYTrXwQaDA— Sylvia (@SylviaObell) August 6, 2019
If you’re even thinking of compiling a list of who the next Toni Morrison is or a list based on “if you like Toni Morrison, try these authors,” stop. Walk away from your device. Slap yourself. pic.twitter.com/BpB4RhUnbl— Nichole 🍞🍯 (@tnwhiskeywoman) August 6, 2019
Toni Morrison wrote what we feel. She wrote the emotions and experiences out from our bodies into the world. I've never felt so alive and real and seen and loved as when I read her words.— jenn m. jackson (@JennMJacksonPhD) August 6, 2019
Like millions, I grew up with her work.— Katura Hudson (@KaturaHudson) August 6, 2019
But I feel like I just *met* her this summer when I saw her doc “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am.”
Especially bc I watched it in community with @wellreadblkgirl fam.
I’ve always looked at this photo whenever I’ve needed for whatever reason to remind myself that I can be carefree. I’m grateful to Toni Morrison for this, and so much more. She will transcend this lifetime. pic.twitter.com/4oT36OsZXI— Candice Carty-Williams (@CandiceC_W) August 6, 2019
I wasn’t ready to be in a world without Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou.— Mars. (@MarsinCharge) August 6, 2019
“We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.”— Blk Girl Culture (@blkgirlculture) August 6, 2019
RIP to the legendary author, Toni Morrison. Thank you for sharing your voice with us.
February 18, 1931 – August 5, 2019 pic.twitter.com/4GJcY4vGj5
Spelman College celebrates the life and legacy of novelist and scholar Toni Morrison. Generations of Spelmanites have studied her work and been changed by her words. pic.twitter.com/8jknGfJdjb— Spelman College (@SpelmanCollege) August 6, 2019
I don’t think the impact of Toni Morrison’s work on readers, on speakers and especially on writers can be emphasized too much. Like it’s massive.— 🆃🆁🆄🅳🆈 (@thetrudz) August 6, 2019
Especially for Black writers. Like...it’s boiler plate to engage her work if you aim to produce anything with both beauty and depth.
RIP Toni Morrison. This is a devastating loss to the world of words, to our understanding of power and it’s reach, to the cultivation of empathy, to rich, nuanced, elegant storytelling. Her work was a gift to every one who had the pleasure of reading her.— roxane gay (@rgay) August 6, 2019