In Memoriam: Distinguished Alumna Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison

Alumna Toni Morrison passed away on Aug. 5, 2019. She was 88 years old.

Born Chloe Anthony Wofford, Toni Morrison, was a student at Howard from 1949 to 1953, during which time she assumed the nickname "Toni." In addition to her academic pursuits in the departments of English and classics, she was a member of the Modern Dance Club, Alpha Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and the Howard Players.

Ms. Morrison earned a bachelor's degree from Howard University in 1953 and a master's degree from Cornell University in 1955.

In 1958, Morrison returned to alma mater to teach in the Department of English. She made a monumental impact on students as a young, Black female faculty member—a significant undertaking. It was while she was a lecturer at Howard, in fact, that she joined a writers' grou and shared with that group a short story, which later became her first novel The Bluest Eye (1970).

In 1979, she received a Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award, and on Charter Day Convocation in 1995, Morrison honored her symbiotic relationship with the University as the orator and an honorary degree recipient.

She was the author of nearly one dozen novels, several volumes of critical essays, children’s books, plays, a song cycle and an opera—rooted in the Black experience.

She was the first African American woman to earn the Nobel Prize in literature, a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the country's highest honor—and many other prestigious awards, recognitions and honorary degrees. We honor the life of our mother, sister and friend in belles-lettres, Toni Morrison. She was a daughter of Howard and a gift to the world.

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