Beloved author Toni Morrison passed away on Monday at 88-years-old.
Morrison won the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award in 1988 for Beloved and also won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. The list of the astounding accolades she accrued over the years is never ending. Morrison was also the professor emeritus at Princeton University.
Here are some of the best quotes from the incomparable and beloved Toni Morrison.
In 1949, Toni Morrison enrolled at Washington D.C.’s historically all black Howard University. After graduating in 1953 with a B.A. in English, she went on to get her Masters of Arts from Cornell University in 1955 where it didn’t take her long to get her first teaching gig at Texas Southern University in Houston. After two years, she returned to her alma mater at Howard to teach for another seven years.
Morrison’s voice was a force to be reckoned with when Beloved hit the shelves. It was a best seller for 25 weeks in a row. That’s when Princeton offered her a professorship and Morrison was there from 1989 until her retirement in 2006.
She wrote seven novels in her career but is also known for her wisdom, which spawned some outstanding intellectual quotes.
Here are some of her best quotes:
From her 1992 novel Jazz, this quote is one about Love:
“Don’t ever think I fell for you, or fell over you. I didn’t fall in love, I rose in it.”
From 1977 Song of Solomon:
“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.”
During her 1993 Nobel Prize speech:
“Make up a story… For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul.”
In a November 2003 interview with “O” The Oprah Magazine she said:
“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.”
In a 2003 profile in the New Yorker she said on race:
“Being a black woman writer is not a shallow place but a rich place to write from. It doesn’t limit my imagination; it expands it. It’s richer than being a white male writer because I know more and I’ve experienced more.”
In 1981’s Tar Baby she wrote:
“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.”
This quote from 1981 is prophetic. It’s more relevant today with rampant narcissistic social media addiction and the advent of cameras in our phones – always feeling the need to document every moment in your life.
On death from her 1993 Nobel Prize speech as well:
“We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.”
Toni Morrison was undeniably one of the most influential authors in American history and she did it all while virtually avoiding mainstream literature for the masses.