Toni Morrison: Beloved AuthorNov 06, 2020 08:00AM ● By Kassidy Garland
Toni Morrison was born Chloe Anthony Wofford Morrison on February 18, 1931. Her parents, originally from the south decided to move to the integrated town of Lorain, OH where Toni Morrison was born and raised. Born to a working class, black family, Toni grew up with a deep understanding and love for her heritage. At the age of 12, Morrison converted to Catholicism, taking the baptismal name Anthony. After this, she would forever be known by her nickname, Toni.
In 1949, Morrison enrolled at Howard University where she graduated with a Bachelor's Degree. It was here in Washington, D.C., that she actually experienced segregated restaurants, housing, and busses. After graduating from Howard University in 1953, Morrison attended Cornell University with her masters.
From there, Morrison taught at Texas Southern University, State University of New York, and Princeton University, where she taught until 2006. She also became an editor and moved to Syracuse, NY before eventually transferring to Random House. In 1970, she published her first book, The Bluest Eye, which tells the story of young black women and girls longing to have blue eyes in order to fit in with caucasian beauty standards.
Morrison’s stories often told in-depth stories of the Black American experience. She discussed culture, fear, mass migration, and acceptance. She did so specifically, for the women affected from these groups. She is also closely linked to feminism due to her strong female characters, but Morrison, while being interviewed, denied calling her work specifically feminist.
Many of her books have been added to the bestseller list, and Oprah’s Book Club list. A number of her books received critical acclaim including Beloved, Tar Baby, Song of Solomon, Native Son, and Sula. Morrison eventually ventured into children’s books with the help of her son, as well. In 1998, Morrison’s novel Beloved was turned into a movie produced by and starring Oprah and other big names like Danny Glover and Thandie Newton. Shortly before her passing, a documentary about her life titled Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am was released.
In 1993, Morrison became the first black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in fiction, and then three years later, she was honored with the National Book Foundation’s Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Toni Morrison was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by the first African-American president, Barack Obama, named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress, was awarded an honorary doctorate from Oxford University, and won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Toni Morrison, a mother, wife, college professor, editor, and award winning author, passed away on August 5, 2019 at the age of 88. Hee legacy, as well as her writing, however, will live on and inspire millions of people to push on, understand their culture, and do the impossible.