TSU professor opens up on Toni Morrison's legacy

By Syan Rhodes - Anchor/Reporter

HOUSTON - Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison passed away Monday night at the age of 88.

Her family says she died at a New York hospital after a brief illness.

Morrison began her teaching career in Houston at Texas Southern University, where she worked from 1955-1957.

READ: 10 iconic Toni Morrison quotes to live your life by

Michon Benson-Marsh, TSU assistant professor of English and African-American literature, spoke to KPRC 2 about Morrison's legacy.

On Morrison's personal impact:

"I felt as though I had lost a great aunt or an extended member of my community. I had learned so much from her and continue to learn so much from her when I open her books. I remember reading 'The Bluest Eye' first, that was in high school."

READ: Twitter reacts to death of cherished author Toni Morrison

On Morrison's works:

"From the onset of her literary career, she was creating works that did not shy away from who she was as a woman. And as a black woman, she disrupted the master narrative of whiteness and maleness and made it OK to exist as one's authentic self, black and female, but not just for black women. Her words were revolutionary. How do people who were historically oppressed subvert that and feel empowered? Or (are they) just OK with being vulnerable and healing? And that's something that's most essential about Morrison's work."

On honoring Morrison's memory:

"Toni Morrison is American heritage, but she's also each individual reader's inheritance in many ways. Pick up one of her books and let's continue to have ongoing discussions about her life and the power of the written word."

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