Toni Morrison Celebrates Eighty With Eloquence


Toni Morrison, Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, editor, and educator celebrated her 80th Birthday February 18, 2011. 

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My first-born and newly married daughter Renita had the distinct honor of attending Ms. Morrison’s 80th birthday celebration last Friday evening at Madison Hall-Library of Congress-Washington, D.C.   Renita’s mother-in-law,  Mrs. Marilyn  Mobley gave her the illustrious invitational hook-up. 

I asked her to share the highlights of the event with me, so that 3 Chics could share them with you all.

Renita’s story: 

“My first Toni Morrison read was the “Bluest Eye.” I read Song of Solomon as part of Oprah’s book Club, and ages ago,  I remember seeing the book Jazz on mama’s bookcase.   As you can see from the program below, the gathering was quite special.  Jessye Norman regaled the honoree and guest with a Duke Ellington classic, and NPR’s Michel Martin was the Mistress of Ceremony.   

At the conclusion of the program, I hurried to find my mother-in-law, as the program went over the expected 8pm ending.   I was expecting my sister at my apartment around that time so I was in a hurry to leave but had to say goodbye and thanks. Once I tracked down a very sociable and popular mother-in-law, she made it clear that I couldn’t leave without meeting Ms. Morrison.

Just being there was enough for me, and I wasn’t interested in interrupting the lady of the hour. There were tons of people surrounding her, sneaking photos, and just trying to get a good look at the legend. I didn’t want to impose; but my mother-in-law insisted.   (Thank God for Mother-in-laws!)  **looking at you, Mrs. Mobley**

We finally reached Ms.Morrison, and I was introduced.  (And this  statement here is very telling about the lady of honor:  “It was as if she had been waiting to see me all evening.” 

I shook her hand and told her how much I admired her and wished her a Happy Birthday. I was totally zoned out,  just being in her presence but I believe she said something along the lines of   “Very good to meet you too, and I’ve heard a lot about you.”   I think she said congratulations too on my recent marriage.  *Me:  Ok, I think I would be just a blushing up a storm here.  LOL*  Anywhoo… that was more than enough to knock my socks off!  It was truly an Amazing evening!”

Thank you, Renita, for sharing a slice of Ms. Morrison’s birthday event with us, and don’t be a stranger around these parts.  Ha ha…

You can view a scanned copy of the actual birthday programme here: tonimorrison[1]

3 Chics hopes that you enjoyed this small glimpse into the celebration of an American treasure.

Here are a few good video clips of Ms. Morrison on writing.

The 2001 C-Span interview “In Depth With Toni Morrison” is a classic.  Watch it here.

Here’s to another healthy, happy, and creative year, Toni Morrison!

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7 Responses to Toni Morrison Celebrates Eighty With Eloquence

  1. Renita says:

    Oh! How could I forget the classmate of hers, who is also distinguished in her own right. Mary Wilburn. She told just the best stories of Toni. I so enjoyed that evening and am still tickled a week later!

  2. rikyrah says:

    Happy Birthday, Ms. Morrison

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