By Orik Ehren, age 13 and IndyKids Staff

  1. I was born on February 18, 1931, in Lorain, Ohio, and I died on August 5, 2019, in New York.
  2. My family was part of the Great Migration, the mass movement of African Americans from the rural South to urban areas in the North to escape poverty, racial segregation and discrimation in the Southern states.
  3. But I still experienced segregation and discrimination in Lorain, Ohio. It just wasn’t part of the law as it was in the South.
  4. I was influenced by the experiences and history of black Americans and the injustices they experienced.
  5. I was known for my extraordinary writing skills, but I was also an editor.
  6. I influenced and inspired writers with the idea that writing didn’t have to be idealized.
  7. I used to tell my students to find what space made them comfortable in order for them to release their imagination.
  8. One writer whom I inspired, Roxane Gay, described my writing as “honest representations of our culture, our lives, our triumphs, our sufferings, our failures. [I] demonstrated the importance of raising our voices and challenging power structures that harm vulnerable peoples.”
  9. In a conversation for a profile in The New Yorker, I said, “I can accept the labels because being a black woman writer is not a shallow place but a rich place to write from. It doesn’t limit my imagination; it expands it. It’s richer than being a white male writer because I know more and I’ve experienced more.”
  10. I won several literature awards, including the Nobel and Pulitzer prizes.
  11. I was called the “Last Great American Novelist” by The New York Times journalist Ross Douthat because “[I] made novels that seem essential to an educated person’s understanding of their country.”
  12. I once said, “If you wanna fly, you got to give up the [stuff] that weighs you down.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answer: Toni Morrison