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 SandersTrump preps conspiracy theory to explain faltering economy Sanders doubles down on 'Medicare For All' defense: 'We have not changed one word' Sanders, Warren back major shift to fight drug overdoses MORE (I-Vt.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSanders doubles down on 'Medicare For All' defense: 'We have not changed one word' Obama reveals his summer playlist Democratic candidates face hard choices as 2020 field winnows MORE (D-Calif.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandDemocratic candidates face hard choices as 2020 field winnows The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Gabbard, Steyer inch toward making third Democratic debate MORE (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) John RyanDemocratic candidates face hard choices as 2020 field winnows The Hill's 12:30 Report: Stocks sink as Trump fights with Fed, China The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch MORE (D-Ohio).