UPDATED: 9:30 a.m. ET, Feb. 18, 2021
Legendary writer Toni Morrison left her indelible mark on the literary world that keeps her name firmly fastened in the annals of the greatest novelists of all time. Hence, it’s only right that we remember some of her famous words that she both wrote and spoke in life.
Born as Chloe Ardelia Wofford on Feb. 18, 1931, the Lorain, Ohio, native was known for classic books like “Song of Solomon,” “Jazz” and ” Sula.” Her debut novel was “The Bluest Eye” in 1970 and by 1987 she won the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award for “Beloved,” which eventually became a movie by Oprah Winfrey in 1988.
Morrison was much more than a writer, however, and frequently chimed in on conversations being had about social justice in America, a theme central in much of her work. In the years before she died, she had plenty to say about the current president, race relations in the U.S. and the police shootings of unarmed Black people.
For instance, back in 2015, Morrison said the conversation she wanted to have about race would center on the unfair treatment of Black people in the nation’s legal system.
“People keep saying, ‘We need to have a conversation about race,’” Morrison told the Daily Telegraph at the time. “This is the conversation. I want to see a cop shoot a white unarmed teenager in the back,” she said before adding: “And I want to see a white man convicted for raping a black woman. Then when you ask me, ‘Is it over?’ I will say yes.”
More than a decade earlier, Morrison appeared on “Charlie Rose” during the criminal trial of O.J. Simpson and offered comments on the racist association of Blackness with criminality. Though the words were about Simpson’s case, they applied all too well years later to the situation in Ferguson and smears against Michael Brown and too many other Black people who have been criminalized in death.
“Race plays many, many roles,” Morrison explained at the time. “It is based and redistributed in the culture based on fundamental kinds of stereotypes.” As a result, she said, “Blackness and criminality are merged in the mids of most white Americans.”
Watch the clip below.
In celebration of Morrison’s birthday, scroll down and keep reading to find eight more examples of some of her most powerful quotes.
Happy Birthday! 8 Of Toni Morrison’s Most Empowering Quotes To Live By was originally published on hellobeautiful.com
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“If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.”
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“You wanna fly? You got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”
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“Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another.”
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“I see your life as artful, waiting just waiting and ready for you to make it art.”
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“Freedom is choosing your responsibility. It’s not having no responsibilities; it’s choosing the ones you want.”
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“If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.”
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“Don’t ever think I fell for you, or fell over you. I didn’t fall in love, I rose in it.”
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“We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.”