Legendary literary giant Toni Morrison’s impact and influence will reverberate for generations to come and an HBCU is using her legacy as inspiration for the creation of a new writing program. Prairie View A&M University recently announced the launch of a curriculum designed to honor Morrison and empower writers who will transform the future of literature.
As part of the program—dubbed the Toni Morrison Writing Program—the Texas-based institution will appoint a Writer-in-Residence who will introduce students to the different facets of African American literature through an array of seminars and workshops. Putting the focus on how Morrison’s alma mater Howard University was instrumental in shaping her path, the individual—who will have a one-year visiting appointment at Prairie View A&M University—will amplify the work of writers who attended historically Black colleges and universities. Additionally, PVAMU will lead a high school writing contest and provide the winner with a scholarship.
The $3 million initiative will be funded by a gift that was made by novelist and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, who was one of Morrison’s students at Princeton University. Scott donated $50 million to Prairie View A&M University last year. The Toni Morrison Writing Program will be spearheaded by PVAMU Provost Emerita Emma Joahanne Thomas-Smith, Ed.D. who says the effort will help students develop their skills and find their voices in literature. “Faculty and staff of both the University and area high schools will share in the activities of the program and benefit from the Writer-in-Residence and other artists representing the full range of literary genres,” she said in a statement.
Morrison’s poignant work has been the focus of several college courses as her contributions to literature and beyond will forever be embedded in the fabric of history. News about the writing program comes after it was revealed playwright and director George C. Wolfe, known for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, is working on creating a television adaptation of Morrison’s 1977 book Song of Solomon.