American author, editor and professor Toni Morrison passed yesterday at age 88 after falling ill with pneumonia. Morrison’s name came into the mainstream when her Pulitzer-prize winning Beloved was made into the 1998 feature film directed by Jonathan Demme. Her lauded first two novels The Bluest Eye and Sula opened up discussions about internalized racism, incest and motherhood. These titles were among her work that became a cornerstone of Black feminist literary criticism despite her resistance to having her work labeled as such. In the ’60s, she became the first Black woman fiction editor at Random House and opened the way for Angela Davis, Toni Cade Bambara and Gayl Jones and the biography of Muhammad Ali.
As a writer, she earned many distinctions including the Pulitzer Prize and American Book Award for Beloved and the Nobel Peace Prize in literature. President Barack Obama presented Morrison with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012. She held the Robert F. Goheen chair in the humanities department at Princeton University since 1989. In 2016, after the election of Donald Trump into the presidency, Morrison wrote an article for November 21st issue of The New Yorker stating that white Americans who voted for Trump did it to keep white supremacy alive. Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am was released in June of 2019.