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Remembering the Peerless Toni Morrison

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The author, teacher, Nobel laureate, and grande dame of American letters has died at the age of 88.

Toni Morrison, the Nobel laureate, Pulitzer Prize winner, and peerless American author, died yesterday at the age of 88. Since the publication of her debut novel, The Bluest Eye, in 1970, Morrison has been established as one of the most powerful and distinct voices in literature, a lyrical chronicler and witness to the African American experience. Her 1987 novel, Beloved, the story of a former enslaved person who is haunted by the child she killed, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988, and was named the best work of American fiction of the late 20th century by The New York Times in 2006.

Morrison was born in Lorain, Ohio, in 1931, the daughter of a welder and a homemaker who encouraged her to read literature and taught her folktales and spirituals at home. After graduating from Howard University, she taught English literature, eventually becoming an editor at Random House, where she fostered and promoted a generation of black writers. The Bluest Eye grew out of a short story she’d written in high school about a young African American girl who dislikes her own appearance and yearns for blue eyes, which she associates with whiteness and with beauty. Morrison wrote the book, she said in an interview in 2014, “because I wanted to read it. I thought that kind of book, with that subject—those most vulnerable, most undescribed, not taken seriously little black girls—had never existed seriously in literature. No one had ever written about them except as props. Since I couldn’t find a book that did that, I thought, ‘Well, I’ll write it and then I’ll read it.’”

Although The Bluest Eye received little critical attention and mainstream success at the time, it helped introduce Morrison to Bob Bernstein, the then-president of Random House, and to Robert Gottlieb, the editor of novels including Catch-22 and True Grit, who became one of Morrison’s closest collaborators. Morrison’s second novel, Sula, was nominated for the National Book Award; her third, 1977’s Song of Solomon, brought her international acclaim for its epic portrayal of heritage and the sweep of history over one Michigan family. “Few Americans know, and can say, more than [Morrison] has,” a Times critic wrote. Success, Morrison told The Washington Post that year, often felt like “it was happening to a friend of mine that I like a lot.” She described taking her son to a piano lesson and happening across a large display of her work in a bookstore window. “There was this huge sign in the window which said ‘A Triumph’ by Toni Morrison. I was by myself in the car. And I realized that was me they were talking about.”

The 1987 publication of Beloved cemented Morrison’s reputation as one of the most important writers in American history. The book emerged from an intermingled feeling of contentment and anxiety, she told Interview in 2012. She was sitting on her porch overlooking the Hudson River, having recently quit editing to focus on writing full-time. “I was really happy,” Morrison said. “Which is to say, I guess I hadn’t been. I hadn’t felt that—it must have been a combination of happiness and something else. And it was then that I wrote Beloved. It was all like a flood when I wrote that book.” Inspired by the story of a real woman who escaped slavery, Margaret Garner, the novel weaves together a profound tale about the brutal, intergenerational legacy of trauma.

Before Beloved won the Pulitzer, a group of 48 black writers and scholars wrote an open letter to The New York Times praising Morrison’s work and its significance to the American canon:

The legitimate need for our own critical voice in relation to our own literature can no longer be denied. We, therefore, urgently affirm our rightful and positive authority in the realm of American letters and, in this prideful context, we do raise this tribute to the author of The Bluest EyeSulaSong of SolomonTar Baby, and Beloved.

Alive, we write this testament of thanks to you, dear Toni: alive, beloved and persevering, magical. Among the fecund intimacies of our hidden past, and among the coming days of dream or nightmares that will follow from the bidden knowledge of our conscious heart, we find your life work ever building to a monument of vision and discovery and trust. You have never turned away the searching eye, the listening ear attuned to horror or to histories providing for our faith. And freely you have given to us every word that you have found important to the forward movement of our literature, our life. For all of America, for all of American letters, you have advanced the moral and artistic standards by which we must measure the daring and the love of our national imagination and our collective intelligence as a people.

In 2000, Morrison was awarded the National Medal for Humanities, and in 2012 she was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. Morrison’s prose, President Barack Obama said,“brings us that kind of moral and emotional intensity that few writers ever attempt.” In the meantime, she continued to teach throughout her career. In 1989 Morrison was appointed the Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities at Princeton University, where she stayed until her retirement in 2006. In addition to her writing, Morrison’s legacy as a professor and a mentor is one of her crowning gifts to a nation that mourns her.

“Word-work is sublime,” Morrison said in her Nobel lecture in 1993, “because it is generative; it makes meaning that secures our difference, our human difference—the way in which we are like no other life. We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.”

Source from The Atlantic

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Kobe Bryant and Daughter Gianna Laid to Rest in Private Funeral

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Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant, have been laid to rest.

ET has learned that a private funeral for the two was held in Corona Del Mar, California, on Friday, February &, two weeks after they died in a helicopter crash alongside seven others. The legendary NBA star is survived by his wife, Vanessa Bryant, and the three other children they shared, Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.

“Vanessa and the family wanted a private service to mourn their loss,” a source tells ET. “The ceremony was extremely hard for everyone as it’s still hard for them to grasp they lost two beautiful souls.”

In addition to the private funeral, a public memorial will be held for Kobe and Gianna on Monday, Feb. 24 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, where the athlete played professional basketball with the Lakers for the entirety of his 20-year career. “24” is a special date, as it’s the number Kobe sported on his journey since the 2006-07 season. It’s the same number he had in high school at Lower Merion.

Vanessa confirmed the date and time of the upcoming public memorial via her Instagram. She shared that it will start at 10 a.m., posting artwork with purple and yellow butterflies.

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Jackson State University’s president resigned after arrested in prostitution sting

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CLINTON, Miss. —

Jackson State University’s president resigned Monday after he was arrested in a prostitution sting, state officials said.

William Bynum Jr., 57, was arrested over the weekend along with several other people, Clinton police said. Bynum is charged with procuring the services of a prostitute, false statement of identity and simple possession of marijuana.

Bynum was selected in 2017 by the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Board as JSU’s president. Before that, he served for four years as president of Mississippi Valley State University.

Bynum is married and is the father of six children.

Another JSU employee was also arrested by Clinton police during the sting. Shonda McCarthy, director of the JSU art galleries, is charged with procuring the services of a prostitute and possession of marijuana while operating a motor vehicle, police said.

The two-day operation resulted in 17 arrests with eight felony charges. The arrests spanned multiple charges, including prostitution, procuring the services of a prostitute, promoting prostitution, conspiracy to promote prostitution and various controlled substance violations.

“An ad is posted online. Services, fees and locations are agreed upon. The offenders, in this instance the jurisdiction was Clinton, and the offenders traveled to Clinton and completed the crime,” said Clinton Police Chief Ford Hayman.

The operation was set up at a hotel in Clinton, where the arrests were made, Hayman said.

“An ad was online and they saw that ad, they called and set this up with our undercover officers,” Hayman said.

The board of trustees of the State Institutions of Higher Learning held an emergency meeting Monday, where they named Thomas Hudson as acting JSU president. Hudson currently serves as special assistant to the president and chief diversity officer for Jackson State, IHL officials said.

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Netflix’s Malcolm X Documentary Forces Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to Reexamine Murder Convictions

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In what serves as the latest example of a popular documentary forcing authorities into action, the Manhattan district attorney’s office will reexamine the circumstances surrounding the 1965 murder of civil rights icon Malcolm X.

The ABA Journal reports that a preliminary review of the convictions in the case will be conducted in order to determine if a more comprehensive investigation is required.

For those wondering why this is happening now—more than a half-century after the activist’s death—Netflix’s new six-part documentary Who Killed Malcolm X? has the internet buzzing and argues that two of the men convicted for his murder couldn’t have been at the scene of the crime.

“District Attorney [Cyrus] Vance has met with representatives from the Innocence Project and associated counsel regarding this matter,” director of communications Danny Frost told PIX 11 in a statement. “He has determined that the district attorney’s office will begin a preliminary review of the matter, which will inform the office regarding what further investigative steps may be undertaken.”

The preliminary review will be led by Senior Trial Counsel Peter Casolaro and Conviction Integrity Deputy Chief Charles King.

Nearly a year ago, Surviving R. Kelly debuted to critical acclaim and uncovered the disturbing depths of his alleged predatory behavior toward underage girls and women. In its aftermath, the man who once boldly embraced his status as “the pied piper of R&B” now faces myriad, serious criminal charges that could ensure he never sees daylight again.

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