Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. lost a distinguished member on Monday with the death of Soror Toni Morrison who passed away at the age of 88. A literary legend, Morrison unapologetically shared the Black female experience through her lyrical words and powerful imageries.
Initiated into AKA in into the Alpha Chapter in 1950, Morrison graduated from Howard University before pursuing a Master of Arts from Cornell University. She moved to New York in the 1960s, where she worked as a senior editor for Random House and began shopping her own novel to publishers. Her first novel, The Bluest Eye, was published in 1970. Three years later, her novel Sula was published.
While teaching at Yale University, Morrison wrote her next novel, Song of Solomon, which was published in 1977. Along with numerous other awards for her work, Morrison was appointed to the National Council on the Arts. Her next novel, Tar Baby, was published in 1981. Five years later, she premiered her play Dreaming Emmett, based on the lynching of Emmett Till. The following year, her novel Beloved was published and won the fiction Pulitzer Prize.
In 1987, Morrison became the first African American woman to ever hold a named chair at any ivy league university, with her appointment to a chair at Princeton University. She also became the first Black woman to receive the Nobel Literature prize in 1992, shortly after publishing her book Jazz. Two additional novels, Paradise and Love, were published in 1997 and 2003 respectively.
In May 2012, Morrison received the Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama. When presenting the award, President Obama said that her “prose brings us that kind of moral and emotional intensity that few writers ever attempt… The rest of us are lucky to be following along for the ride.”
In true AKA fashion, Morrison also committed herself to charitable causes. The Toni Morrison Society sponsors numerous programs, including the Bench by the Road Project. This initiative places memorial benches at sites that are historically significant to the African American experience.
God truly blessed the world with the mind and creations of Toni Morrison. In her own words, “If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.” Ride the air, Ms. Morrison and rest in peace.