The Blog of Toledo Lucas County Public Library
On December 21, 2020, Governor Mike DeWine signed House Bill 325 declaring Toni Morrison’s birthday, February 18, Toni Morrison Day in Ohio. The bill was introduced shortly after the author’s passing two years ago by Representatives Joe Miller and Stephanie Howse, who wanted to honor the Ohio author and acknowledge her contributions to literature.
Toni Morrison was born on February 18, 1931 in Lorain, Ohio. She was an avid reader and excelled academically. Morrison earned a bachelor’s degree at Howard University, where she studied English and connected with other writers, artists, and activists. She continued her education at Cornell University with a Master of Arts in English. During her career, Morrison taught English at Texas Southern University and at Howard University, where she would meet her husband, Harold Morrison, and at Cornell University. Toni and Harold Morrison had two children, Harold and Slade. Slade would later write children’s books with Toni.
Morrison’s achievements and impact on literature were immense. She was the first female African American editor to work at Random House. She has honorary degrees from Harvard, Sarah Lawrence College, the University of Pennsylvania, Yale, Dartmouth, Georgetown, and the Sorbonne. In 2006, she guest-curated an exhibition at the Louvre called The Foreigner’s Home. Her works are best-sellers and have won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Literature and the Coretta Scott King Award. She has been awarded the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature, the 2017 AAAS Emerson-Thoreau Medal, the 2012 Presidential Medal of Freedom, the 2000 National Humanities Medal, and the 1996 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.
As we celebrate Toni Morrison Day in Ohio, let’s savor some of her many contributions to American literature. Here are a few suggestions.