August 6, 2019
By Taryn Jackson Stewart
Last night we said goodbye to an American treasure. Publisher Alfred A. Knopf announced that Toni Morrison died at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. Morrison’s family issued a statement through Knopf saying she died at the age of 88 after a brief illness.
Like Morrison, I grew up in Ohio and moved to Washington, DC to attend Howard University. I can’t accurately describe how it felt to do assignments based on “Sula” and “Tar Baby” knowing that I was walking the same halls as the person who wrote these stories. Her words would jump off the pages and touch places in my soul I wasn’t always ready to explore.
Toni Morrison, born Chloe Ardelia Wofford, will have countless obituaries written about her life and legacy over the next several days. They will list out her novels, plays, short fiction and non-fictions works. Her list of awards and accolades are endless as the commentary through her work has left an impression on more than one generation.
Described as one of the greatest writers of both the 20th and 21st centuries, she took readers on a journey through the eyes of her African-American characters as they dealt with the loss of their identities and heritage. She didn't shy away from the lengths they would go to reclaim them.
The depth of the PBS archive provides a special and unique opportunity to reflect on her life and get glimpses of her throughout the different seasons of her career.