(February 18, 1931 – August 5, 2019)
Many will memorialize her far better than I. Her literature, both creative and critical, will be studied, quoted, repeated for decades, and yes, for years to come. Whether we closely read her words or simply know of her literary accomplishments, we are all better for having shared time and space during the era of her writing. Why? Well, because she helped each of us understand ourselves better, understand our need and capacity to be the fullness of our we whomsoever we be.
Regardless of our own particular specifics, she encouraged each of us to produce as well as taste the fruit and flower of our individual existence. And though we all have our struggles to wage, as our elders knew and taught us: be yourself and be guided by love (sometimes tender, sometimes tough, but in its various and variegated manifestations, both individually and in the aggregate, in order to be fully human, love is what we all need). Know that among us are seers, wonder-filled sages as love wise as was our so, so special Toni Morrison.
Toni Morrison taught us: in all its wondrous twists and turns, we will come to understand the totality of life (and also death) by and by. Yes, if we live, we’ll better understand it all, by and by.
All hail Toni Morrison!
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Listen and Look
Commencement address to Barnard Class of 1979