Tuesday 20 August 2019

Toni Morrison, author and Nobel Laureate, has died aged 88

The late Toni Morrison poses after being awarded the Officer de la Legion d'Honneur, the Legion of Honour, France's highest award, during a ceremony at the Culture Ministry in Paris, France November 3, 2010. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/File Photo
The late Toni Morrison poses after being awarded the Officer de la Legion d'Honneur, the Legion of Honour, France's highest award, during a ceremony at the Culture Ministry in Paris, France November 3, 2010. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/File Photo

Bill Trott

Barack Obama and Beyonce have led the tributes to US Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, who has died aged 88.

Former president Mr Obama took to social media to pay tribute to the author on behalf of himself and his wife, the former first lady Michelle Obama.

He said: "Toni Morrison was a national treasure. Her writing was not just beautiful but meaningful - a challenge to our conscience and a call to greater empathy. She was as good a storyteller, as captivating, in person as she was on the page.

"And so even as Michelle and I mourn her loss and send our warmest sympathies to her family and friends, we know that her stories - that our stories - will always be with us, and with those who come after, and on and on, for all time."

Singer Beyonce paid tribute to Morrison on her website with a picture of the author on her homepage alongside one of her quotes: "If you surrender to the air, you can ride it."

"Rest in paradise," she added.

Other high-profile figures chose to pay tribute to Morrison with her own words including former first lady Hillary Clinton, actress Kerry Washington and US congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

Mrs Clinton tweeted: "'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. We are all so lucky to live in a world where she took her own advice and shared it with others."

Golden Globe winner Washington said on Twitter: "'You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.' Toni Morrison.

"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."

Ms Omar wrote: "'We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.'

"Holding all those touched by Toni Morrison in my heart today."

Rising star of the progressive left in US politics, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wrote: "Toni Morrison will be remembered as one of the greatest thinkers and storytellers in our history. She gave us all so much, and her work continues to give throughout time. Thank you, Toni Morrison."

Those in the running to be the Democratic nomination for president in 2020 also paid tribute.

California senator Kamala Harris tweeted: "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.'"

Fellow senator Bernie Sanders wrote: "'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.

"Today we lost an American legend. May she rest in peace."

Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi tweeted: "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."

Chance the Rapper paid his respects on Twitter saying: "Aw man Toni Morrison taught me the word Rememory. RIP to a incredibly powerful and impactful woman."

Actress Gabrielle Union said: "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 (heart) you. May we lift her up in the light of goodness and hold her there."

Singer Bette Midler wrote: "#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."

Former tennis champion Billie Jean King tweeted: "Toni Morrison was the first African-American woman to win a Nobel Prize. May she rest in power. #RememberHerName"

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