[Congressional Record Volume 140, Number 123 (Wednesday, August 24, 1994)]
[Page H]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]

[Congressional Record: August 24, 1994]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]


  Ms. MOSELEY-BRAUN. Mr. President, there are often footnotes to 
history that are overlooked by those who chronicle benchmarks of 
achievement. These are moments to be celebrated and I take this 
occasion to share in a joyful tribute which the extraordinary poet Maya 
Angelou hosts for America on September 3, 1994. Dr. Angelou will 
accomplish what we as a nation have failed to do--and that is to 
embellish for posterity, the life's work and accomplishments of the 
newest Nobel Prize winner in Literature, novelist Toni Morrison.
  Ms. Morrison is the first American woman to win this single honor in 
55 years, the third American over a period of more than two decades, 
and the only African-American ever. As an element of this historical 
backdrop, it is noted that the Nobel Committee of the Swedish Academy 
has selected only two other African-American Laureates since the 
inception of this momentous ceremony--Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and 
U.N. Ambassador Ralph Bunche--who both were awarded the Nobel Peace 
  Of the numerous tributes which followed the announcement of this 
year's prize for literature, the most animated have been those of her 
peers. In the words of contemporary novelist Alice Walker:

       No one writes more beautifully than Toni Morrison. She has 
     consistently explored issues of true complexity and terror 
     and love in the lives of African Americans.

  Indeed the Nobel Committee's announcement stated that ``Ms. Morrison 
gives life to an essential aspect of American reality'' in novels 
``characterized by visionary force and poetic import.''
  Calling her ``a literary artist of the first rank'' the Academy's 
statement went further to say that ``She delves into the language 
itself, a language she wants to liberate from the fetters of race. And 
she addresses us with the luster of poetry.''
  A Princeton University professor, Morrison is the author of ``Song of 
Solomon'' winner of the National Book Critics Award, the Pulitzer Award 
winning ``Beloved'' published in 1987, the critically acclaimed 1992 
work entitled ``Jazz,'' along with other lyrically narrated novels on 
African-American life. The 1993-94 Nobel Laureate in Literature was 
born Chloe Anthony Wofford in Lorriane, OH, shortly after the onset of 
the Great Depression--the second of four children of sharecroppers and 
the granddaugther of an Alabama slave. Reared in a low-income, 
integrated neighborhood, Morrison drew from this experience and the 
nurturing of her parents and inherited a gifted legacy and sense of 
history which permeates her works. Ms. Morrison, not surprisingly, 
learned to read at an early age and was the only child in her class to 
enter first grade with that skill. She would later earn a bachelor's 
degree in English from Howard University in Washington, DC, and a 
master's degree in English from Cornell University.
  Her academic career would span both historically black colleges and 
universities including Texas Southern University in Houston, and Howard 
University as well a New York State University campuses at Albany and 
Purchase, NY. Ms. Morrison would also distinguish herself in the 
publishing field through her work as an editor at Random House in 
Syracuse, NY and as a prolific essayist and playwright.
  Toni Morrison, through her creative genius and vision has shown us 
how our culture teaches us and how our past can influence our future. 
She gives us the promise of good things to those who are true to their 
cultural ancestry. Through this tribute, which I offer here in the 
Senate and on behalf of the Congressional Black Caucus, we express our 
gratitude for her commitment to literary excellence and inspiration. 
For Mr. President, in ways that few others have, Toni Morrison gives us 
inspiration to prevail in times where there is only the beauty and 
integrity of our language, our spirit, and our history to sustain us.