Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison

Excerpt

If anything I do, in the way of writing novels or whatever
I write, isn’t about the village or the community or you,
then it isn’t about anything. I’m not interested in indulging
myself in some private exercise of my imagination … the
work must be political.

—Toni Morrison

STORIES. TONI MORRISON GREW UP ON STORIES. Lots of them and all kinds: gossip, legend, myth, folktales, family lore, even frightening ghost stories that would keep her awake at night. And everybody told them: grandparents, parents, and siblings. Had to. Never questioned why. Just told, listened, and enjoyed. And practically all the time. Every occasion, no matter how small, was an opportunity for someone in Morrison’s family to tell a tale. Even her acceptance lecture when she became the first African American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature was a story.

Toni Morrison was born Chloe Anthony Wofford in Lorain, Ohio. Her dad George Wofford worked as a welder in a shipyard, but he also worked as a car washer, steel mill worker, road construction worker, and more. What Wofford did, he did well. Whenever he completed a perfect seam on any ship, he signed his name to it. And he passed on to his children his pride in perfection. To this day, Morrison continues to measure her accomplishments by what her father would approve of.

George Wofford was also a racist. Morrison often smiles when she uses the word “racist” to describe her dad, but she means what she says: “As a child in Georgia, he received shocking impressions of adult white people, and . . .

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