Obama pays tribute to Toni Morrison: 'What a gift to breathe the same air as her'

Former President Obama on Tuesday paid tribute to Pulitzer-winning novelist Toni Morrison, whom he awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012, after it was announced that she had died on Monday.

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“Her writing was not just beautiful but meaningful—a challenge to our conscience and a call to greater empathy. She was as good a storyteller, as captivating, in person as she was on the page,” Obama wrote in a Facebook post, noting Morrison’s accomplishments, including the Pulitzer and Nobel prizes.

“And so even as Michelle and I mourn her loss and send our warmest sympathies to her family and friends, we know that her stories—that our stories—will always be with us, and with those who come after, and on and on, for all time,” he added.

 

“Toni Morrison was a national treasure, as good a storyteller, as captivating, in person as she was on the page. Her writing was a beautiful, meaningful challenge to our conscience and our moral imagination,” Obama said in a separate tweet. “What a gift to breathe the same air as her, if only for a while.”

 

Morrison's publisher announced on Tuesday that the writer had died Monday in New York.

The acclaimed "Beloved" and "Jazz" writer was honored with virtually every literary award imaginable over her decades-long career — including the Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award.

At the 2012 Medal of Freedom ceremony, Obama lauded Morrison’s writing, saying it “brings us that kind of moral and emotional intensity that few writers ever attempt.”

The announcement of Morrison’s death also prompted tributes from several Democratic presidential candidates, including Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersLawmakers release defense bill with parental leave-for-Space-Force deal Gabbard says she won't participate in next debate even if she qualifies Overnight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Deal on surprise medical bills faces obstacles | House GOP unveils rival drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote | Justices to hear case over billions in ObamaCare payments MORE (I-Vt.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisKrystal Ball: Media turns on Buttigieg, will this end him? Senate Democrats demand Trump fire Stephen Miller The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - A crucial week on impeachment MORE (D-Calif.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandOvernight Defense: Bombshell report reveals officials misled public over progress in Afghanistan | Amazon accuses Trump of 'improper pressure' in Pentagon contract decision | House Judiciary holds final impeachment hearing Gillibrand demands hearing following release of 'Afghanistan Papers' White House, Congress near deal to give 12 weeks paid parental leave to all federal workers MORE (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanGM among partners planning .3B battery plant in Ohio San Francisco 49ers suspend announcer after reference to quarterback's 'dark skin' More than 100 Democrats sign letter calling for Stephen Miller to resign MORE (D-Ohio).