Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey and More Remember Toni Morrison, ‘Our Truth-Teller’

Luminaries in politics, journalism, music, film, television, academia and more paid their respects to the literary icon Toni Morrison, who died on Monday at the age of 88. Morrison was best known for books such as “Beloved,” “The Bluest Eye” and “Song of Solomon,” which chronicled the black experience throughout U.S. history.

See below tributes from Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Shonda Rhimes, Kerry Washington and more.

Barack Obama

Former President Obama shared a picture of him awarding Morrison the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the White House, writing that she was “a national treasure, as good a storyteller, as captivating, in person as she was on the page.”

Oprah Winfrey

Winfrey, who was a longtime friend of the author, shared a commemoration on Instagram. She wrote, “She was our conscience. Our seer. Our truth-teller.”

Shonda Rhimes

The “Grey’s Anatomy” creator remembered the author as an inspiration for her own writing career. “I grew up wanting to be only her,” she wrote.

Kamala Harris

The California senator and Democratic presidential candidate tweeted in memory of Morrison with the quote: “Something that is loved is never lost.”

Dan Rather

The news anchor called Morrison’s voice “singular” and “courageous.” He tweeted, “The brilliance of her mind and spirit will live on in her words.”


The rapper and actor shared a quote from the author: “We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.”

Ava DuVernay

The “When They See Us” creator captioned a photograph of the late author with a quote: “If you look at the world as a brutal game, then you bump into the mystery of the tree-shaped scar. There seems to be such a thing as grace, such a thing as beauty, such a thing as harmony. All of which are wholly free and available to us.”

Bernie Sanders

The Vermont senator and Democratic presidential candidate shared the Morrison quote: “If you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.”

Kerry Washington

The “Scandal” actress tweeted the “Song of Solomon” quote: “You wanna fly, you got to give up the s— that weighs you down.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

The freshman New York congresswoman praised the author as “one of the greatest thinkers and storytellers in our history.”

Gabrielle Union

The “America’s Got Talent” judge tweeted a poetic commemoration to the author. “Her words were like mirrors to our collective souls,” she wrote. “Like pillows to cushion the blows. Like mothers to wrap us in love. Like friends to hold our hands and see us through the darkness.”

Cornel West

The public intellectual remembered his “dearest sister” as the “greatest novelist of our time.”

Bette Midler

The singer/actress/comedian gave thanks to the author for “the insights, the stories, and the poetry of your thought.”

Lena Waithe

“The Chi” creator tweeted that the author was “never afraid to speak the truth” along with the Morrison quote: “In this country American means white. Everybody else to hyphenate.”

Barry Jenkins

The “Moonlight” director said the author will live forever in “so many heart and minds and spirits.”

Cory Booker

The New Jersey senator and Democratic presidential candidate tweeted a picture of Morrison with her quote: “The function of freedom is to free someone else.”

Stacey Abrams

The Georgia politician remembered Morrison as a “towering intellect, a brilliant scribe of our nation’s complex stories, a heartbreaking journalist of our deepest desires, and a groundbreaking author who destroyed precepts, walls and those who dared underestimate her capacity.”

Joy Reid

The news anchor shared the “Song of Solomon” quote: “If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.”

Beto O’Rourke

The former Texas congressman and Democratic presidential candidate tweeted the “Song of Solomon” quote “You wanna fly, you go to give up the s— that weighs you down.” He added, “A lesson for each of us. A lesson for our country.”

Diane Abbott

The British MP remembered the author, calling her “a great woman” and “a personal heroine of mine.”

Wendell Pierce

“The Wire” actor shared the Morrison quote: “As you enter positions of trust and power, dream a little before you think.”

Julie Dash

“The Daughters of the Dust” director remembered the author for her support as a director and a writer.

Paulo Coelho

“The Alchemist” author tweeted, “Keep on writing, don’t rest in peace, Toni Morrison!”

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