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National Endowment for the Arts Statement on the Death of Toni Morrison

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Toni Morrison reading applications at a meeting.

Toni Morrison served on the Arts Endowment's National Council on the Arts from 1980-87 as well as on panels for the Literature Program. NEA File Photo

It is with great sadness that the National Endowment for the Arts acknowledges the death of writer Toni Morrison, one of the world’s best-known and most successful novelists. From 1980-1987, Morrison was a member of the National Council on the Arts, the Arts Endowment’s advisory body. She also served as a panelist for the agency’s literature program, reviewing hundreds of applications from prospective grantees.

The Arts Endowment is honored to have spoken with Morrison for an article in the 2014/Number 4 issue of the agency’s magazine on the theme of failure. In an interview with the Arts Endowment’s Rebecca Sutton, Morrison said, “Writing for me is thinking, and it’s also a way to position myself in the world, particularly when I don’t like what’s going on. It’s extremely important to me. [Confidence] came with time. I knew I always was compelled to do it, but I didn’t know how essential it was to me.”

Director of Literary Arts Amy Stolls wrote this appreciation for Morrison on June 7, 2012 on the occasion of Morrison’s receipt of the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.

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