This image released by the USPS shows a forever stamp featuring Nobel laureate Toni Morrison. Photo: USPS via AP/Canadian Press
The Late Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison Is Honoured with an American Stamp
The Obamas and Oprah Winfrey pay tribute to the writer whose poetic interpretations of the African American experience gained a world-wide audience / BY Kim Honey / March 10th, 2023
A Time cover portrait of the late writer Toni Morrison has been chosen by the U.S. Postal Service for a new stamp to honour the vaunted author, the first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize for literature.
“Toni told fundamental truths about our country and the human condition, but she didn’t just reflect what was true,” former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama wrote in a letter read at the unveiling on March 7. “She helped generations of Black Americans reimagine what was possible. That’s why we return to her stories again and again, finding new meaning each time.”
The forever stamp – which never expires, even if postage prices change – features a photograph taken in 1997 for a Time magazine story, which touted Morrison as “the great American storyteller.”
It was revealed at Princeton University in New Jersey, where she taught literature from 1989 to 2006, as part of a yearlong celebration of the author and her work. Born in 1931 in Lorain, Ohio, Morrison was a textbook editor and single mother of two boys when she published her first novel, The Bluest Eye, in 1970. She went on to write 10 more, including Tar Baby, Song of Solomon and Beloved, about Civil War-era slaves and ex-slaves, which the 1993 Pulitzer Prize jury said was “destined to become an American classic.” Morrison died in 2019, aged 88, after she was diagnosed with pneumonia.
Oprah Winfrey, whose book club featured four of Morrison’s titles – more than any other author – made an appearance at Princeton via video, where she lauded “a powerful legend,” and recounted the time Morrison was on her television show to talk about Song of Solomon. When Winfrey told the author some of her books were emotionally challenging to read, Morrison said: “Think about how difficult they are to write.”