The Pierians Incorporated

           Founded in 1958 . National Office Established in 1982

Honoring Toni Morrison

American Legend

 

Pierians Honor A Great Women

 

Our society has so many gifted and talented women in the arts. There are artists, dancers, writers and poets. There are sculptors, actors, singers and musicians. 


The Pierians honor and celebrate the talented woman who provided the beauty and grace that enriched our lives. We highlight events and achievents of her life and are grateful for such a prolific writer who inspired us all to look deeper into our own lives.

Toni Morrison [1931 - 2019]
American Writer 

Toni Morrison was an American novelist, essayist, editor, teacher, and professor at Princeton University. As a child, she was an avid reader and possessed the qualities which would inspire her to achieve great acclaim through her gifts of prose.

Chloe Anthony Wofford ‘Toni’ Morrison, was born in Lorain, Ohio, and was the second of four children in a working-class, African-American family. Her mother was born in Greenville, Alabama, and moved north with her family as a child. Her father grew up in Cartersville, Georgia, and when he was about 15, white people lynched two black businessmen who lived on his street. Morrison said: "He never told us that he'd seen bodies. But he had seen them. And that was too traumatic, I think, for him."  Soon after the lynching, George Wofford moved to the racially integrated town of Lorain, Ohio, in the hope of escaping racism and securing gainful employment in Ohio's burgeoning industrial economy. Morrison's parents instilled in her a sense of heritage and language through telling traditional African-American folktales and ghost stories and singing songs. As a child. Morrison was an avid reader and was especially fond of the writings of Jane Austen and Leo Tolstoy.

 

She attended Howard University in Washington, DC, graduating in 1953 with a B.A. degree in English. She went on to earn a Master of Arts degree from Cornell University in 1955. She taught English at Texas Southern University in Houston for two years and then at Howard University for seven years.  She later became a book editor at Random House where she became the first black woman senior editor in the fiction department.


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

Toni Morrison

Beginnings of An Exceptional Writing Career


Morrison had begun writing as part of an informal group of poets and writers at Howard University. She wrote her first novel, The Bluest Eye, getting up at 4am to write while raising two children. The novel was published in 1970.  In 1975, her second novel Sula was nominated for the National Book Award. Her third novel, Song of Solomon became a Book of the Month Club selection, and was the first novel by a black writer to be chosen since Richard Wright’s Native Son. She wrote her next movel, Tar Baby, in 1981 and wrote her first play, Dreaming Emmett in 1986.

Awards and Distinctions


In 1979, Barnard College awarded its highest honor to Morrison, the Barnard Medal of Distinction.

 

In 1987, Morrison published the celebrated novel, Beloved. It was inspired by the true story of an enslaved African-American woman, Margaret Garner. The novel was a critical success and a best seller for 25 weeks. Beloved won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988 and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. The novel was the first of a Trilogy, the second of the trilogy being Jazz (1992). The last novel of the trilogy, Paradise, came out in 1997.

 

Toni Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1994. In 1996 she was selected for the Jefferson Lecture of the National Endowment for the Humanities. This was the U.S. federal government’s highest honor for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities. That year, she also was awarded the National Book Foundation’s Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. She appeared on the cover of Time magazine in 1997, being only the second female writer of fiction and the second black writer of fiction to appear on the magazine. Most notably, Toni Morrison was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012, by President Barack Obama. The award and the Congressional Gold Medal are the highest civilian honors of the United States.

A Lifetime of Achievement


Throughout her life, Toni Morrison was a prolific and gifted writer. Her works were a reflection of and commentary on the conditions of African-American life in America. She was never afraid to comment on politics and American race relations. She influenced many young writers through her works and also through her life as an educator.

The Pierians Honor An American Legend!


Toni Morrison will remain as an inspiration to The Pierians, Incorporated and we celebrate and honor her life as we mourn her passing.