Former President Barack Obama commemorated the life and legacy of author Toni Morrison, who died Monday night at the age of 88.
“Toni Morrison was a national treasure, as good a storyteller, as captivating, in person as she was on the page,” he said in a tweet Tuesday. “Her writing was a beautiful, meaningful challenge to our conscience and our moral imagination. What a gift to breathe the same air as her, if only for a while.”
Toni Morrison was a national treasure, as good a storyteller, as captivating, in person as she was on the page. Her writing was a beautiful, meaningful challenge to our conscience and our moral imagination. What a gift to breathe the same air as her, if only for a while. pic.twitter.com/JG7Jgu4p9t
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 6, 2019
As president, Obama awarded the trailblazing author the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012, honoring her career in centering the lives and histories of African Americans.
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“As a single mother working at a publishing company by day, she would carve out a little time in the evening to write, often with her two sons pulling on her hair and tugging at her earrings. Once, a baby spit up on her tablet so she wrote around it. Circumstances may not have been ideal, but the words that came out were magical,” Obama said at the ceremony.
“Toni Morrison’s prose brings us that kind of moral and emotional intensity that few writers ever attempt. From ‘Song of Solomon’ to ‘Beloved,’ Toni reaches us deeply, using a tone that is lyrical, precise, distinct, and inclusive,” he continued. “She believes that language ‘arcs toward the place where meaning might lie.’ The rest of us are lucky to be following along for the ride.”
“I remember reading ‘Song of Solomon’ when I was a kid and not just trying to figure out how to write, but also how to be and how to think,” he added later, referring to her 1977 novel.
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