Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another. — Toni Morrison
Born and raised in Lorain, Ohio, Chloe Anthony Wofford “Toni” Morrison graduated from Howard University in 1953, and went to graduate school at Cornell University. She later taught English at Howard University, and also married and had two children before divorcing in 1964. In the late 1960s, she became the first black female editor in fiction at Random House in New York City. In the 1970s and 1980s she developed her own reputation as an author, and her perhaps most celebrated work, Beloved, was made into a 1998 film.
Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. In 1996, the National Endowment for the Humanities selected her for the Jefferson Lecture, the U.S. federal government’s highest honor for achievement in the humanities. Also that year, she was honored with the National Book Foundation’s Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. On May 29, 2012, President Barack Obama presented Morrison with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2016, she received the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction.