The Sunday Edition

From the archives: Toni Morrison in conversation with Michael Enright

Toni Morrison, a giant of American literature and culture, died last Monday. In 1989, she spoke with Michael Enright on As It Happens, and they discussed what was then a growing movement among black Americans to refer to themselves as African-American.

It's an enormous loss not just to American letters, but to the entire world of literature. Toni Morrison, the Nobel Prize-winning novelist, died last Monday night at the age of 88.

Toni Morrison was an undisputed giant of American literature, but she was far more than that. She was one of those rare writers who was both a staple of book clubs and the subject of serious academic analysis. She profoundly influenced the way millions of people think of themselves and others through both her fiction and her scholarly work on the meanings of being black — and her exhortations to black Americans to love themselves.

With such novels as Song of Solomon and Beloved, Morrison rooted her fiction in the history and experiences of generations of African-Americans, but she also gave it a mythic, otherworldly dimension. She was renowned for the richness of her language, her moral authority and humanity, and the weight she attached to the words and names we use to call ourselves.

It was in that spirit that she spoke with Michael Enright in 1989, when he was host of As It Happens. They discussed what was then a growing movement among black Americans to refer to themselves as African-Americans.

Click 'listen' above to hear part of that conversation.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.