Ruha Benjamin, a professor of African American studies at Princeton, read a letter penned by the Obamas during the ceremony.
“Anyone who was lucky enough to meet [Morrrison], knows that she was just as captivating in person as she was on the page,” Benjamin read. “We hope that this postage stamp would make her smile, that she would love the idea of helping us connect through writing once again.”
“Toni may no longer be with us, but we know that her words will endure—challenging our conscience and calling us to greater empathy,” she continued.
Winfrey, who selected Song of Solomon as the inaugural book of Oprah's Book Club, spoke about the impact that Morrison's work had on her life and career.
“Over the years, I selected four of Toni Morrison’s books to read as a community more than any other author,” Winfrey said in her message. “I shared with her that, ‘Ms. Morrison, sometimes your books are challenging and difficult for some people to read.’ And she said, ‘Well think about how difficult they are to write,”
Pritha Mehra, chief information officer and executive vice president of the United States Postal Service, lauded Morrison for her distinguished career at the event.
“Our new stamp will be seen by millions, and forever remind us of the power of her words and the ideas she brought to the world,” said Mehra.
A prolific author, some of Morrison’s ground-breaking works are The Bluest Eye (1970), Sula (1973), Song of Solomon (1977), Beloved (1987), which won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1988, and many more acclaimed novels. Morrison won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993, becoming the first Black woman to win the award for literature.
In addition to her writing, Morrison was the Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities at Princeton University for 17 years. She also was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012 by President Obama. And Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am (2019), a documentary about her life and career, was released in 2019.
To further celebrate one of America’s greatest writers, Princeton has a slate of events to honor Morrison’s life and legacy that began in February 2023 and will conclude in June 2023., including Toni Morrison: Sites of Memory, which will be on view at Princeton University Library’s Milberg Gallery, and the “Toni Morrison Lectures” sponsored by the Department of African American Studies and Princeton University Press, which will be given by Dr. Farah Griffin of Columbia University.