January 28, 2008

Toni Morrison Endorses Barack Obama

I had to smile today when I heard that Toni Morrison endorsed Barack Obama. I imagine that Sis. Morrison, who won the Nobel Prize in 1993, regretted the fact that she is the source of the rumor that Bill Clinton was America's first Black president.

In a 1998 New Yorker piece, Morrison wrote of Bill Clinton: "White skin notwithstanding, this is our first Black president. Blacker than any actual Black person who could ever be elected in our children's lifetime. After all, Clinton displays almost every trope of Blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald's-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas."

Today, she took steps to get that monkey off her back as she noted in her letter to Obama that she was backing him because "this is one of those singular moments that nations ignore at their peril. There have been a few prescient leaders in our past, but you are the man for this time."

Here is the full text of her letter:



Dear Senator Obama,

This letter represents a first for me--a public endorsement of a Presidential candidate. I feel driven to let you know why I am writing it. One reason is it may help gather other supporters; another is that this is one of those singular moments that nations ignore at their peril. I will not rehearse the multiple crises facing us, but of one thing I am certain: this opportunity for a national evolution (even revolution) will not come again soon, and I am convinced you are the person to capture it.

May I describe to you my thoughts?

I have admired Senator Clinton for years. Her knowledge always seemed to me exhaustive; her negotiation of politics expert. However I am more compelled by the quality of mind (as far as I can measure it) of a candidate. I cared little for her gender as a source of my admiration, and the little I did care was based on the fact that no liberal woman has ever ruled in America. Only conservative or "new-centrist" ones are allowed into that realm. Nor do I care very much for your race[s]. I would not support you if that was all you had to offer or because it might make me "proud."

In thinking carefully about the strengths of the candidates, I stunned myself when I came to the following conclusion: that in addition to keen intelligence, integrity and a rare authenticity, you exhibit something that has nothing to do with age, experience, race or gender and something I don't see in other candidates. That something is a creative imagination which coupled with brilliance equals wisdom. It is too bad if we associate it only with gray hair and old age. Or if we call searing vision naivete. Or if we believe cunning is insight. Or if we settle for finessing cures tailored for each ravaged tree in the forest while ignoring the poisonous landscape that feeds and surrounds it. Wisdom is a gift; you can't train for it, inherit it, learn it in a class, or earn it in the workplace--that access can foster the acquisition of knowledge, but not wisdom.

When, I wondered, was the last time this country was guided by such a leader? Someone whose moral center was un-embargoed? Someone with courage instead of mere ambition? Someone who truly thinks of his country's citizens as "we," not "they"? Someone who understands what it will take to help America realize the virtues it fancies about itself, what it desperately needs to become in the world?

Our future is ripe, outrageously rich in its possibilities. Yet unleashing the glory of that future will require a difficult labor, and some may be so frightened of its birth they will refuse to abandon their nostalgia for the womb.

There have been a few prescient leaders in our past, but you are the man for this time.

Good luck to you and to us.
Toni Morrison


In a statement, Obama thanked Morrison for her endorsement, saying she "has touched a nation with the grace and beauty of her words, and I was deeply moved and honored by the letter she wrote and the support she is giving our campaign."

What do you think about this endorsement from Toni Morrison?

9 comments:

Shelia said...

Wow, what a beautiful and powerful endorsement. I'm glad to see it.

Mo said...

Interesting.
This is the first I've heard of this (but frankly I haven't listened to/watched the news in a few days...). Thanks for sharing. I always find it fascinating when people with influence like this publicly support a candidate.

Villager said...

Shelia - I'm glad that our village could provide you with new information...

Mo - Perhaps bloggers should publish our own 'letters of endorsement' for the candidate of our choice. Maybe it will get us an invitation to the inauguration or a sleepover in the White House? (smile)...

MsMarvalus said...

Villager - I must admit, I smiled too upon hearing about Ms. Toni's endorsement...and when I read the letter, I smiled again...

I think it's a very good idea about writing a letter of endorsement on our blogs...a very good idea indeed...

Villager said...

Ms.Marvalus - Have I told you how much I enjoy your avatar? Anyhow, I hope that you and other bloggers take up the idea of publically posting your presidential endorsements. After all, our blogs are extensions of us. We are not bound by the same confines as reporters who must hide their preferences.

Martin Lindsey. said...

So she really was the source of that "first Black President" crap? I had heard that recently and couldn't believe one of our finest artists would pimp us like that.

Oh well, guess I ought to be a good Christian and forgive and give her a chance to take it back since she wrote such a thoughtful message. If my candidate can get over it, guess I have to do it too.

I like the letter of endorsement idea. I've been scribbling some philosophical, vision types of thoughts on this election recently and haven't had a chance to gel them together. I guess this will be my impetus to finish it up and put it out there.

Shazza Nakim said...

I was very well stated BUT I think it was more for Morrison's conscious and cleaning of her reputation than the overall support for Barak Obama.

One good thing, if luck and blessing are equal, Toni Morrison made note of Bill Clinton, maybe its a good thing that she did endorsed bama. Lightning does strike twice.

MsMarvalus said...

Villager - Why, thank you!

Oh, my endorsement is running carzy through my blog; sometimes I think I overdo it but, hey, it's my blog!

Iya said...

Ms. Morrison's endorsement was a heartfelt piece of literature. I found it sincere and also (to use the word she used of Obama) sprinkled with WISDOM.