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English Department

Celebrating the Life, Legacy and Literature of Toni Morrison

The Spelman Community Reflects and Pays Tribute to a Literary Legend

Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison | 1931 - 2019

Spelman Celebrates the Life and Legacy of Toni Morrison

Generations of Spelmanites have studied and admired Toni Morrison's work and have been changed by her words. In various public forums, alumnae, faculty, students and friends have shared their love and respect for the woman whose words were life and breath.

 

Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell Remembers Morrison

Excerpts from the President's Letter to the Community:

...Ms. Morrison, like Anna Julia Cooper, Zora Neale Hurston, Lorraine Hansberry, Audre Lorde, Angela Davis, Sonia Sanchez, Alice Walker, Pearl Cleage, Stacey Abrams and many others, is one of the high priestesses of Black culture.

Her gift to the students of Spelman is what Ms. Hansberry would call the gift of "sighted eyes, and feeling heart." Faculty at Spelman have been teaching Ms. Morrison almost every academic year; and every year, there is a growing number of devotees. What she teaches is unflinching fierceness in the face of truth. What she inspires is an unfathomable love.

I can hear the sound of her voice, as I read her words ...
Mary Schmidt Campbell

"I’m a believer in the power of knowledge and the ferocity of beauty, so from my point of view, your life is already artful—waiting, just waiting, for you to make it art."

Remembering the Life and Legacy of Toni Morrison

Enjoy a conversation on WABE'S "A Closer Look" about Morrison’s impact on the literary world and how Spelman faculty has used her work within their curriculum with Michelle Hite, Ph.D., associate professor of English, director of the Ethel Waddell Githii Honors Program and director of International Fellowships and Scholarships. Listen Now.

"A world without Toni Morrison seems bereft of grace and wisdom." --  Dr. Hite

Dr. Michelle Hite Pens AJC Article: "How Morrison Taught us How to Maintain our Composure in a World Falling Apart"

"For Toni Morrison, the novel ["Beloved"] was a site and a source of ancestral wisdom."


"As such, she would have urged us toward the pages of her work as the balm for our despondency before a world that seems to be falling apart.

She would have urged us to read and told us that in doing so, we were tending to the business of creating a better world." Read More.

Spelman Professor Michelle Hite

Morrison Memories

"We are the ships that go out to explore uncharted waters and the safe harbors that welcome their return...Spelman women can do it all."

Toni Morrison, Spelman College Commencement Address 1978.

 

From Peer Review

Our Beloved Journey: Using Storytelling to Foster Faculty Community

By: Karen Brakke, Michelle S. Hite, Azaria Mbughuni, Opal Moore, Bruce Wade and Mona Taylor Phillips
[At Spelman] storytelling has provided an axis for developing summer workshops designed to build an intellectual commons among our faculty by engaging colleagues from diverse disciplines in cross-disciplinary conversations and interdisciplinary projects. The 2012 and 2013 [Teaching Resource and Research Center] workshops applied a multi-disciplinary approach to the re-reading of Toni Morrison’s novel "Beloved," bringing together modes of inquiry from several disciplines.

Learn more about how Morrison's works shaped these Spelman experiences.

"If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it"

Toni Morrison's Beloved
Toni Morrison's BluestEye
Toni Morrison's Tar Baby
Toni Morrison's Paradise

"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."

Twitter Posts From the Spelman Community

 

"If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it."

 

"As you enter positions of trust and power, dream a little before you think."

 

"Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined."

 

"...Don't tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief's wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear's caul."

From Toni Morrison With Love...

"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. '"

A Life Well Lived

Toni Morrison Celebrated at Spelman College

Articles and Obituaries

NPR: Author and Spelman Alumna Tayari Jones Shares An Appreciation Of Toni Morrison
New York Times:
"Toni Morrison, Towering Novelist of the Black Experience, Dies at 88."
NPR: Toni Morrison, Whose Soaring Novels Were Rooted In Black Lives, Dies At 88
Spelman Alumna Lucile Fultz

 


Spelman alumna Lucille P. Fultz, C'59, is the author and editor of two books on Toni Morrison and numerous essays on her work. Her book, "Toni Morrison Playing with Difference,"  won  the 2005 Toni Morrison Society Book Award. She is also the author of "Toni Morrison: Paradise, Love, A Mercy."

 

 

Beloved...


“After situating herself on a huge flat-sided rock, Baby Suggs bowed her head and prayed silently. The company watched from the tree. They knew she was ready when she put her stick down. Then she shouted, ‘Let the children come!’ and they ran from the trees toward her.
  
"Let your mothers hear you laugh,’ she told them, and the woods rang. The adults looked on and could not help smiling.

Then, ‘Let the grown men come,’ she shouted. They stepped out one by one from among the ringing trees.
    '
Let your wives and your children see you dance,’ she told them, and groundlife shuddered under their feet.
    
Finally she called the women to her. ‘Cry,’ she told them. ‘For the living and the dead. Just cry.’ And without covering their eyes the women let loose. It started that way: laughing children, dancing men, crying women and then it got mixed up. Women stopped crying and danced; men sat down and cried; children danced, women laughed, children cried until, exhausted and riven, all and each lay about the Clearing damp and gasping for breath.”

—From Toni Morrison’s "Beloved"