10 Toni Morrison Quotes to Live By

Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison
Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison

Today, Feb. 18, marks Toni Morrison's 85th birthday, and what better way to celebrate it than by celebrating her words.


Morrison's words have had a profound and everlasting impact on literature and black history. Her novels The Bluest Eye (1970), Sula (1973), Song of Solomon (1977) and Beloved (1987) should be considered national treasures. Millions study the work of the Nobel Prize-winning author, and anyone who's been lucky enough to hear her speak is left marveling at her presence.

Morrison is a pivotal part of black history, and below are 10 quotes worth remembering.

1. If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.

2. We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.

3. As you enter positions of trust and power, dream a little before you think.

4. I always looked upon the acts of racist exclusion, or insult, as pitiable, from the other person. I never absorbed that. I always thought that there was something deficient about such people.

5. Make a difference about something other than yourselves.

6. If there's a book you really want to read but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.


7. Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another.

8. Love is or it ain't. Thin love ain't love at all.

9. There is nothing of any consequence in education, in the economy, in city planning, in social policy that does not concern black people.

10. No one ever talks about the moment you found out that you were white. Or the moment you found out you were black. That's a profound revelation. The minute you find that out, something happens. You have to renegotiate everything.