First Black Woman To Win Nobel Prize Toni Morrison Dies at 88
Howard University Graduate Toni Morrison has died at the age of 88.
Morrison was best known for her 1987 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Beloved,” later adapted into a 1998 film starring Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover. In 1993, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, becoming the first black woman to receive the honor.
The Nobel committee honored her career and dedication to centering the lives and histories of African Americans, writing in its citation that Morrison’s work is “characterized by visionary force and poetic import” and “gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.”
In 2012, then-President Barack Obama awarded her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Prior to becoming a legendary author, Morrison blazed trails at Random House from 1967 to 1983, becoming the first black woman editor at the storied publisher. In that role, she championed the work of many writers of color, publishing the work of black luminaries including Gayl Jones, Toni Cade Bambara, Henry Dumas, Huey P. Newton, Muhammad Ali and Angela Davis.
“Toni Morrison’s working life was spent in the service of literature: writing books, reading books, editing books, teaching books. I can think of few writers in American letters who wrote with more humanity or with more love for language than Toni,” Knopf Chairman Sonny Mehta said in a statement to HuffPost Tuesday. “Her narratives and mesmerizing prose have made an indelible mark on our culture. Her novels command and demand our attention. They are canonical works, and more importantly, they are books that remain beloved by readers.”
Morrison also held teaching positions at Yale, Bard College, Rutgers and the State University of New York at Albany.
Born Chloe Ardelia Wofford in Lorain, Ohio, on Feb. 18, 1931, Morrison was the second of four children to working-class parents George and Ramah Wofford, who left the South during the Great Migration.
Ms Morrison had two sons, Harold and Slade, with ex-husband Harold Morrison, whom she divorced in 1964.