Luther College celebrates the life of Toni Morrison and other women writers of color

January 31, 2020

Each February, Luther College joins in celebrating the achievements and major contributions of people of color during Black History Month. This year, all events have a common thread: Toni Morrison and other women writers of color.

            "Toni Morrison is one of America's great writers, and her passing provides us an opportunity to celebrate her life and work," said Novian Whitsitt, professor of Africana studies and English. "The genius, artistry and social potency of her writing has captured the world's attention, and we benefit from further discussion of her intellectual contributions."

            Morrison was a Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, editor and professor. In 1993 she became the eighth woman and the first African American to win the Nobel Prize. Among her best-known novels are "The Bluest Eye," "Song of Solomon," "Beloved" and "A Mercy." Her books are known for their original themes, vivid language and richly detailed African American characters. Morrison did not simply tell her readers about issues concerning African Americans, instead she showed them. Morrison died on Aug. 5, 2019.

            At 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 6, the film "Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am" will be played in Valders 206 on the Luther College campus. Whitsitt will moderate a discussion following the showing.

"The film captures the artistic and political landscape for Morrison's life, interviewing a variety of people who attest to the gifts of her literary contributions. The discussion of the film will offer an opportunity for us to consider Morrison's meaningful legacy," said Whitsitt. 

            The Wall Street Journal points out the film "reminds us how long Morrison had to wait for the recognition she so richly deserved, and what a distinctive, generous, funny, astute, self-doubting, unstoppable and formidable figure she was along the way."

The following week, at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13, Terrion Williamson, professor of African American and African studies at the University of Minnesota, will speak in Valders 206.

Williamson has done extensive research surrounding black feminist theory, twentieth and twenty-first century African American literature and black cultural studies. Williamson is known for her first book "Scandalize My Name: Black Feminist Practice and Making of Black Social Life," in which Williamson uses her own experiences growing up in the small midwestern city of Peoria, Illinois, as the staging ground to study how poor and working-class black women upend notions of black female representation.  

Both events are open to the public with no charge for admission.

In addition to these larger events, students will engage in pop-up readings of Toni Morrison's work and the writings of other female writers of color in classrooms and common areas on campus. There are special chapel readings planned and Preus Library will maintain a section dedicated to books and writings by Toni Morrison and other women writers of color.

"I wrote my first novel because I wanted to read it." - Toni Morrison

Luther College is home to more than 1,900 undergraduates who explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our 60+ academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at