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 SandersThe Hill's Morning Report - ObamaCare here to stay Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle OVERNIGHT ENERGY:  EPA announces new clean air advisors after firing Trump appointees |  Senate confirms Biden pick for No. 2 role at Interior | Watchdog: Bureau of Land Management saw messaging failures, understaffing during pandemic MORE (I-Vt.), Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisHarris signals a potential breakthrough in US-Mexico cooperation Watch live: Harris delivers remarks on vaccination efforts Biden signs Juneteenth bill: 'Great nations don't ignore their most painful moments' MORE (D-Calif.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandGillibrand: Military must make changes beyond sexual assault cases COVID-19 long-haulers press Congress for paid family leave Ocasio-Cortez, Gillibrand and Moulton call for more high-speed rail funding in infrastructure package MORE (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanJ.D. Vance emerges as wild card in Ohio GOP Senate primary 9 Senate seats most likely to flip in 2022 Biden faces dilemma on Trump steel tariffs MORE (D-Ohio).