Image Credits: John Matthew Smith, Wikimedia Commons
On this day, I woke up to the news of Toni Morrison’s death and I decided to compile some of her best quotes in celebration of her life.
Toni whose original name is Chloe Anthony Wofford was born on February 18, 1931, in Lorain Ohio. She died at the Bronx New York, on Monday, August 5, 2019, at the age of 88 years old. It is said that she changed her name while attending Howard University because people struggled to pronounce her birth name, Chloe.
Ms. Morrison was best known for her work as an author/novelist who examined black experience within the black community. In reporting her death, the New York Times referred to her as the “towering novelist of the black experience”.
In 1993, she was the first African American woman to win a Nobel Prize for literature. Ms. Morrison’s writings are not only limited to novels, but she has also written children’s books and essays.
Some of Toni Morrison’s most notable works include:
- The Bluest Eye (1969)
- Sula (1973)
- Song of Solomon (1977), it won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction,
- Tar Baby (1981),
- Dreaming Emmett, a play (1985)
- Beloved (1987), which received the Pulitzer in 1988. In 2006, it was named the “best work of American fiction published in the previous 25 years” by the New York Times Book Review poll.
- Jazz (1992)
- Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination (1992)
- Paradise (1997)
- A Mercy (2009)
- What Moves at the Margin (2008).
Toni Morrison has published many more writings and about her work she said:
“Everything I’ve ever done, in the writing world, has been to expand articulation, rather than to close it, to open doors, sometimes, not even closing the book — leaving the endings open for reinterpretation, revisitation, a little ambiguity.”Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison Inspirational Quotes
From all her work, there is no shortage of wisdom to be gained. Ranging from interviews, her essays, speeches and even her books you can find a ton of inspirational quotes from Toni Morrison. Here are some of them:
Toni Morrison Quotes on Freedom:
“Freeing yourself was one thing. Claiming ownership of that freed self was another.” (“Beloved,” 1987)
“If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.” (“Song of Solomon,” 1977)
“Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined.” (“Beloved,” 1987)
“The function of freedom is to free someone else.” (1979 speech at Barnard College, NYC)
“At some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough. You don’t need to photograph, paint or even remember it. It is enough. No record of it needs to be kept and you don’t need someone to share it with or tell it to. When that happens—that letting go—you let go because you can.” (Tar Baby, 1981)
On Language & Writing:
“Language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names. Language alone is meditation.”
“A writer’s life and work are not a gift to mankind; they are its necessity.” (“The Source of Self -Regard,” 2019)
“We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.” (Nobel lecture, 1993)
“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
“Could you really love somebody who was absolutely nobody without you? You really want somebody like that? Somebody who falls apart when you walk out the door? You don’t, do you?” (Song of Solomon, 1977)
“Don’t ever think I fell for you, or fell over you. I didn’t fall in love, I rose in it.” (Jazz, 1992)
“You’re turning over your whole life to him. Your whole life, girl. And if it means so little to you that you can just give it away, hand it to him, then why should it mean any more to him? He can’t value you more than you value yourself.” (Song of Solomon, 1977)
“Anger … it’s a paralyzing emotion … you can’t get anything done. People sort of think it’s an interesting, passionate, and igniting feeling—I don’t think it’s any of that—it’s helpless … it’s absence of control—and I need all of my skills, all of the control, all of my powers … and anger doesn’t provide any of that—I have no use for it whatsoever.”
“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. This is not just a grab bag candy game.” ( O, The Oprah Magazine, 2003)
“As you enter positions of trust and power, dream a little before you think.”
Toni Morrison’s greatest lesson
What is your favorite Toni Morrison quote?
How has she inspired you? Please leave a comment below and let us celebrate the literary icon she was.