UB Marks the Passing of the Great Toni Morrison
August 6, 2019
Contact: Office of Government and Public Affairs
Novelist and essayist Toni Morrison, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, the Pulitzer Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and countless other accolades, passed away on Aug. 5. In 2011, Morrison served as keynote speaker for the University of Baltimore School of Law's Applied Feminism Conference, hosted by its Center on Applied Feminism. Today, UB faculty are remembering Morrison's appearance at the University and recognizing her impact on literature, culture and the world itself.
"It is with great sadness that I learned of Nobel Laureate Dr. Toni Morrison's passing," says Prof. Margaret E. Johnson, associate dean for experiential education at the UB School of Law, co-director of the Center on Applied Feminism and director of the Bronfein Family Law Clinic. "The Center on Applied Feminism was honored to host Dr. Morrison as the keynote speaker for our conference on March 30, 2011. She delivered her keynote in a packed Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and addressed the theme of the conference: Applied Feminism Globally.
"Dr. Morrison's rigor in questioning the conference theme and exploration of the presentations reflects no surprise to those who have read her outstanding novels. As she has been quoted when asked for whom she writes, Dr. Morrison replied, 'I want to write for people like me, which is to say black people, curious people, demanding people—people who can't be faked, people who don't need to be patronized, people who have very, very high criteria.' We treasure the legacy of Dr. Morrison's visit to our campus and her novels that move, inspire and challenge us."
In a short essay, Diedre L. Badejo, professor of Comparative African and African Diaspora Literature, Women's Studies and Oral Historiography in the Klein Family School of Communications Design, says teaching the literature of Morrison "reveals a vision and voice guiding pathways toward our infinite humanity and truths."
"I heard Toni Morrison speak at Hopkins in 2004, and was so impressed by her literal presence, her rich speaking voice, her sureness of what she was doing with writing," says Betsy Boyd, director of the M.F.A. in Creative Writing & Publishing Arts and assistant professor in the Klein Family School of Communications Design. "Her powerful novels are going to live in this world, always. At this moment, I am hard pressed to think of another writer revered by so many. She was and is a true literary force."