Morrison, a widely read novelist and special consultant to the director of the Princeton Atelier, is one of 13 recipients of the award this year. The Medal of Freedom is presented to individuals who have “especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors,” according to the White House website. The awards will be presented at the White House in late spring.
Morrison did not respond to a request for comment.
In 1989, Morrison began teaching literature and writing at the University as a lecturer with the rank of professor in the University’s creative writing program. Morrison retired from the University in 2006.
She has written a total of nine novels, including “Song of Solomon,” which won the National Book Critics Award in 1978, and “Beloved,” which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1988. In 1993, Morrison became the first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Seven years later, she won the National Humanities Medal.
Morrison continues to write today; her upcoming novel, “Home,” will be published in early May of this year.
Susan Wheeler, director of the creative writing program, praised Morrison in an email.
“Like any great work of art, each novel by Toni Morrison enlarges and transforms the world for a reader,” Wheeler said. “Through her writing, we — and others throughout the world, who read her work in English or in translation — have a deeper, more profound sense of what experience in this nation has been and is today.”
Last year, Morrison gave the commencement address at nearby Rutgers University.
Morrison was not the only University-affiliated recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom: John Doar ’44 was also among the 13 honored by Obama.
Doar was a leader of federal efforts to support civil rights in the 1960s. He served as an assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice during much of the civil rights movement and worked to prevent a riot in Jackson, Miss., in 1963. He was also a leader in the effort to implement the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Doar also served as Special Counsel to the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary during its inquiries into the Watergate scandal, considering articles of impeachment against President Nixon. He continues to practice law at Doar Rieck Kaley & Mack in New York.
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