Toni Morrison Honored at “Bench By the Road” Ceremony


Photo courtesy of Oberlin College Office of Communications

Member of the college and campus met at Oberlin’s Bench by the Road for a tribute to author Toni Morrison.

Campus and community members gathered at the Toni Morrison Society’s “Bench by the Road” to celebrate the life and work of the late Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison last Friday. Attendants honored Morrison, who grew up in Lorain, Ohio, by reading passages from the author’s seminal works, The Bluest Eye and Beloved.

“The tribute was wonderfully warm and solemn — exactly the atmosphere you’d want to honor an amazing writer and intellectual who is now transitioning into our cultural ancestor,” Associate Professor of English Gillian Johns, who organized the tribute, wrote in an email to the Review. “And I was heartened to see faculty and students from both English and Africana Studies gather together because Morrison has been an extraordinarily significant presence to both our departments here at Oberlin and our disciplines at large.”

Morrison maintained a close relationship with the College and gave commencement speeches in 2009 and 2012. Her work continues to inspire Oberlin students in their academic and creative pursuits.

“Toni Morrison’s legacy lives through each of the dedicated Black artists on Oberlin’s campus,” College second-year Nasirah Fair wrote in a message to the Review. “Oberlin is special to her, this land was her stomping ground and where she held roots. Her light and spirit is evident in the wisdom of professors … as well as all of the talented Black students who grace this campus and share their work, especially Black women. We have gained an ancestor to guide us and influence our artistry, and we will continue to try and honor her memory.”