10 Toni Morrison Quotes That Will Never Stop Inspiring Us


Jess Eagle

Toni Morrison’s work and language (as she would say) profoundly impacted millions of people around the world, often in deeply personal ways. Her life was a testament to the power of language to affect real and lasting change. Ms. Morrison often reminded us that the effects and results of language are just as concrete as things we can see and touch; that language impacts our individual lives and our human world more profoundly than anything else; that language can be used to create and discover, and just as easily to harm and destroy.

A tireless advocate for equality and an unparalleled writer of some Black American women’s experiences, Ms. Morrison’s contributions to social justice cannot be overstated. She forever changed the American conversation through her life, her art, her language.

  1. Make a difference about something other than yourselves.

  2. Women’s rights is not only an abstraction, a cause; it is also a personal affair. It is not only about us; it is also about me and you. Just the two of us.

  3. I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge-even wisdom. Like art.

  4. The function of freedom is to free somebody else.

  5. I want to discourage you from choosing anything or making any decision simply because it is safe. Things of value seldom are.

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

  7. Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined

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

  9. I tell my students, “When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.”

  10. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.

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