In observation of Banned Books Week 2022, the New York Public Library will celebrate the legacy of Pulitzer-prize-winning author Toni Morrison by offering unlimited digital access to her award-winning novels without holds from September 15 to October 31.
Not only is the library providing access to Morrison’s works that have been banned such as The Bluest Eye and Beloved, but the initiative also includes “reading recommendations that challenge readers to explore new perspectives and complex themes and public programming dedicated to Toni Morrison’s illustrious storytelling and furthering her advocacy against censorship.”
“At the core of the Library is our dedication to providing open access to knowledge for all without barriers,” said Anthony W. Marx, President of The New York Public Library. “Book banning closes the doors to new experiences, diverse and rich worldviews, and the ability to discover and challenge ideas. By making these works accessible, we are honoring Toni Morrison’s legacy in allowing people to see themselves, history, and our world in challenging, complex and uncensored ways.”
Across the country, certain school districts are lobbying to ban books from Black writers, including some of Morrison’s most notable works. In contrast to districts that want to deny the truth of Black history and the history of other ethnic groups, AP African American classes are being introduced in select school districts this school year.
In her stellar career, Morrison was hailed as one of the most renowned authors of all time. Her novel Song of Solomon earned her critical acclaim and she won the National Book Critics Circle Award. In 1988, Morrison won the Pulitzer Prize for Beloved and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. In total, she wrote 10 novels, seven non-fiction works, two plays and three children’s books.
As an academic, Morrison taught at Howard University and she held the Robert F. Goheen Chair in the Humanities at Princeton University from 1989 until she retired in 2006. West College at Princeton was renamed in her honor in 2017.
She passed away in August of 2019.
In Burn This Book, a collection of essays, Morrison wrote about the negative effects of censorship.
“The thought [of book banning] that leads me to contemplate with dread the erasure of other voices, of unwritten novels, poems whispered or swallowed for fear of being overheard by the wrong people, outlawed languages flourishing underground, essayists' questions challenging authority never being posed, unstaged plays, canceled films – that thought is a nightmare,” she wrote. “As though a whole universe is being described in invisible ink.”
Banned Books Week runs from Sept 18-24.