Hollywood Mourns Novelist Toni Morrison
Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, Shonda Rhimes, Kerry Washington, Robin Roberts, Danielle Brooks, Rob Delaney and more stars took to social media Tuesday to pay tribute to the late writer whose works include 'Beloved,' 'The Bluest Eye' and 'Sula.'
Hollywood stars and public figures took to social media Tuesday to pay tribute to acclaimed American storyteller Toni Morrison, who died Monday night at Montefiore Medical Center in New York after a short illness. She was 88.
Morrison released her debut novel The Bluest Eye in 1970. She quickly established herself as a strong, distinctive voice of her generation through the story about Pecola, an 11-year-old black girl coping with feelings of inferiority because of her looks and the color of her skin as she grows up in a white society.
Her second novel, Sula, was published in 1973. The book earned her a National Book Award nomination, while her third book, 1977's Song of Solomon, won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was named a main selection of the Book of the Month Club. It was the first work of a black writer to be chosen since Richard Wright's 1940 novel Native Son.
She went on to publish Beloved in 1987. The novel was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and was adapted into a film of the same name starring Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover.
Morrison became the first black woman to win the Nobel Prize in literature in 1993.
Oprah Winfrey remembered Morrison with a poetic post on Instagram, accompanied by a photo of the author's first appearance on Winfrey's daytime talk show: “In the beginning was the Word. Toni Morrison took the word and turned it into a Song…of Solomon, of Sula, Beloved, Mercy, Paradise Love, and more. She was our conscience. Our seer. Our truth-teller. She was a magician with language, who understood the Power of words. She used them to roil us, to wake us, to educate us and help us grapple with our deepest wounds and try to comprehend them. It is exhilarating and life-enhancing every time I read and share her work...She was Empress-Supreme among writers. Long may her WORDS reign!”
Kerry Washington reflected on how Morrison's work impacted her. "I cannot imagine growing up in a world without her words. I pray you rest In Peace and in Power," she tweeted. "We will celebrate you with endless gratitude and love. Always."
Robin Roberts took to Instagram to honor Morrison. "So sad to hear of the passing of the first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature," Roberts captioned a photo of the novelist. "Her legacy will live on through those who were impacted by her powerful and unique voice."
Meanwhile, Rob Delaney wrote on Twitter that Beloved was "indispensable to my understanding of America."
Danielle Brooks shared one of Morrison's quotes before she tweeted, "Your legacy will forever live on." The post included a photo of the late novelist.
Barack Obama remembered Morrison as a "national treasure" in a post on Twitter, which included a photo of the two of them together. "As good a storyteller, as captivating, in person as she was on the page. Her writing was a beautiful, meaningful challenge to our conscience and our moral imagination. What a gift to breathe the same air as her, if only for a while," he wrote.
Beyonce also paid tribute to Morrison on her website. The singer shared Morrison's quote, "If you surrender to the air, you can ride it." The quote was accompanied by a photo of Morrison with the text "Rest in Paradise."
Rep. John Lewis reflected on Morrison's legacy in a statement. "The passing of Toni Morrison is a mandate to all others in the field to fulfill the high calling that her work and her life demonstrated," he said. "Her words, her wisdom, her undying love and commitment to her people are forever engraved in the pages of history, but her artistic, remarkable literary voice will be deeply missed."
Read on to see what others had to say about Morrison.
Toni Morrison was a national treasure, as good a storyteller, as captivating, in person as she was on the page. Her writing was a beautiful, meaningful challenge to our conscience and our moral imagination. What a gift to breathe the same air as her, if only for a while. pic.twitter.com/JG7Jgu4p9t— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 6, 2019
“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) August 6, 2019
I cannot imagine growing up in a world without her words. I pray you rest In Peace and in Power.
We will celebrate you with endless gratitude and love. Always.
“We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.”— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) August 6, 2019
Holding all those touched by Toni Morrison in my heart today. pic.twitter.com/2jkAvtaErK
Oh no...no no no...— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) August 6, 2019
Toni Morrison made me fall in love with words-she used them with greater skill and artistry than anyone I've ever read. She was to writing what Aretha was to music. Those who were lucky enough to know or meet her I'm so sorry & so envious. She was everything. https://t.co/vS7dY1ThAa
“As you enter positions of trust and power, dream a little before you think.” -Toni Morrison RIP pic.twitter.com/sbosHnxr08— Wendell Pierce (@WendellPierce) August 6, 2019
Thank you Toni Morrison. Beloved is indispensable to my understanding of America. We are grateful.— rob delaney (@robdelaney) August 6, 2019
"You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down." — Toni Morrison— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) August 6, 2019
A lesson for each of us. A lesson for our country. She may be gone, but her writing, her resolve, and her grace will live on forever.
Toni Morrison was a towering intellect, a brilliant scribe of our nation’s complex stories, a heartbreaking journalist of our deepest desires, and a groundbreaking author who destroyed precepts, walls and those who dared underestimate her capacity. Rest well and in peace. pic.twitter.com/nMkxXRtEoz— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) August 6, 2019
In the passing of Toni Morrison, we lost one of our greatest voices & storytellers. Holding close those touched by her being & her gift. Her work gave us power, hope & freedom. While our world shines a little less bright today, we know "something that is loved is never lost."— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) August 6, 2019
Today, the world lost a storyteller of unmatched empathy, elegance and power. Toni Morrison’s belief that language is the “measure of our lives” leaves an extraordinary, inspiring inheritance, and her beautiful writing will continue to be a blessing for generations to come. pic.twitter.com/cc3st7x2lM— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) August 6, 2019
“Something that is loved is never lost"...encouraging words from the beloved author #ToniMorrison that we can surely use today. So sad to hear of the passing of the first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Her legacy will live on through those who were impacted by her powerful and unique voice.
She made me understand“writer” was a fine profession. I grew up wanting to be only her. Dinner with her was a night I will never forget. Rest, Queen. “Toni Morrison, seminal author who stirringly chronicled the Black American experience, dies” https://t.co/S6qxix5OCj— shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) August 6, 2019
Toni Morrison will be remembered as one of the greatest thinkers and storytellers in our history.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) August 6, 2019
She gave us all so much, and her work continues to give throughout time. Thank you, Toni Morrison. https://t.co/XEDGNS7OXW
“If you look at the world as a brutal game, then you bump into the mystery of the tree-shaped scar. There seems to be such a thing as grace, such a thing as beauty, such a thing as harmony. All of which are wholly free and available to us.” Your life was our gift, #ToniMorrison pic.twitter.com/wcD7w9zKYp— Ava DuVernay (@ava) August 6, 2019
“We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.” Toni Morrison. I’m deeply sadden to share that one of our greatest writers and minds in American History, Toni Morrison, passed away at the age of 88. May God Bless Her Soul. pic.twitter.com/Dq1UL4ENIY— COMMON (@common) August 6, 2019
#ToniMorrison has died. Just when we most need to hear her voice, she is gone. Thank you for the insights, the stories, and the poetry of your thought that have enriched us all these many years. Lay your burden down.— Bette Midler (@BetteMidler) August 6, 2019
Toni Morrison. While you have left the physical realm, the many treasures you left us will bear fruit for generations and generations. Your work has cascaded through my life deeply and simply...rest in power to a beloved icon. pic.twitter.com/YQPS3gR5Ml— Tracee Ellis Ross (@TraceeEllisRoss) August 6, 2019
"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," Toni Morrison said.— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 6, 2019
We are all so lucky to live in a world where she took her own advice and shared it with others.
In the beginning was the Word. Toni Morrison took the word and turned it into a Song…of Solomon, of Sula, Beloved, Mercy, Paradise Love, and more. She was our conscience. Our seer. Our truth-teller. She was a magician with language, who understood the Power of words. She used them to roil us, to wake us, to educate us and help us grapple with our deepest wounds and try to comprehend them. It is exhilarating and life-enhancing every time I read and share her work. This pic was her first appearance on the Oprah Show. She was Empress-Supreme among writers. Long may her WORDS reign!
I just assumed Ms. Morrison would live forever. And in so many ways in so many hearts and minds and spirits, she will. pic.twitter.com/jYQSs0DMd6— Barry Jenkins (@BarryJenkins) August 6, 2019
"If you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else." -Toni Morrison— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) August 6, 2019
Today we lost an American legend. May she rest in peace. https://t.co/DInZvd8stY
RIP Toni Morrison. This is a devastating loss to the world of words, to our understanding of power and it’s reach, to the cultivation of empathy, to rich, nuanced, elegant storytelling. Her work was a gift to every one who had the pleasure of reading her.— roxane gay (@rgay) August 6, 2019
Aw man Toni Morrison taught me the word Rememory. RIP to a incredibly powerful and impactful woman.— The Big Day out now (@chancetherapper) August 6, 2019
Oh, no. So deeply saddened. Thank you for everything, Ms. Morrison. https://t.co/huR38XtyXk— Celeste Ng (@pronounced_ing) August 6, 2019
Her words were like mirrors to our collective souls. Like pillows to cushion the blows. Like mothers to wrap us in love. Like friends to hold our hands and see us through the darkness. #RipToniMorrison you. May we lift her up in the light of goodness and hold her there.— Gabrielle Union (@itsgabrielleu) August 6, 2019
This is a hard day. #ToniMorrison— Terry McMillan (@MsTerryMcMillan) August 6, 2019
Toni Morrison's powerful writing taught us all new ways to lead, new ways to fight, and reminds us of the humanity in others. As I think about her passing, her words fill me with hope. “Your life is already a miracle of chance waiting for you to shape its destiny.” https://t.co/5fFf7u5DeH— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) August 6, 2019
The world just lost an incredible soul. Rest in peace, Toni Morrison. pic.twitter.com/30w6yt8Dkc— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) August 6, 2019
Toni Morrison will always be one of the greatest of all times. A culture changer. A literary monarch. She was a force that made readers see life through her eyes...our eyes. Thank you God for her unapologetic style. She shared it with grace. Rest In Power— Regina King (@ReginaKing) August 6, 2019
Toni Morrison’s words cut through ignorance and deception like a hot knife through butter. Her legacy lives on in the millions of brown girls and boys she inspired to pick up a pen and tell the truth. pic.twitter.com/SDtZOL4DWQ— Padma Lakshmi (@PadmaLakshmi) August 6, 2019
Toni Morrison was a world-class human being. Her words stirred our souls & challenged our consciences to confront injustice, large or small, wherever it exists. How blessed we are that she gave us her gifts. Hillary and I are grateful for her life and the kindness she showed us. pic.twitter.com/ZCSPFCma1F— Bill Clinton (@BillClinton) August 6, 2019
The World is standing still in homage to one of the greatest literary treasures of all time. Thank You Toni Morrison. We will forever speak your name. pic.twitter.com/fb3XlTzZlE— Debbie Allen (@msdebbieallen) August 6, 2019
“We die, that may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.” RIP Toni Morrison (1931-2019)— RainnWilson (@rainnwilson) August 6, 2019
“You wanna fly, you got to give up the sh*t that weighs you down.”— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) August 6, 2019
RIP Toni Morrison