Prison Radio
Mumia Abu-Jamal

“Toni Morrison, Master Writer, 1931-2019.”

Her name, Toni Morrison, evokes something close to veneration for readers. Her book most rooted in the savagery of the U.S. South during slavery days gave names, faces, and voices to millions of nameless, faceless, and unheard African captives, especially women.

With grace and fierce intelligence, Morrison plumbed the very depths of American history to recreate now iconic characters as living, breathing beings in her novels. Morrison wrote many novels, but perhaps her masterwork was Beloved, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988.

In her novel, she had the community’s leading elder, Baby Shooks, tell the following about love to a gathering of men, women, and children:

“Here in this here place, we flesh, flesh that weeps, laughs, flesh dances on bare feet in grass. Love it. Love it hard. Yonder they do not love your flesh. They despise it. They don’t love your eyes. They just assume, pick them out, no more do they love the skin on your back. Yonder they flay it and all my people. They do not love your hands. Those, they only use, tie, bind, chop off, and leave empty. Love your hands. Love them. Raise them up and kiss them, touch others with them, pat them together, stroke them on your face, because they don’t love that either. You gotta love it. Love your heart, for this is the prize.

Toni Morrison, born Chloe Anthony Wofford Morrison on February 18th, 1931, writes so passionately, so deeply that tears escape my eyes when I read this dialogue of Baby Shooks. She was, for decades, a master writer.

Moreover, she was one hell of an editor, for she edited for Random House when she worked on Revolutionary Suicide by a man named Huey Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther Party.

Tony Morrison—author of such books as Sula, 1973, The Bluest Eye, 1970, Song of Solomon, 1977, Tar Baby, 1981, Jazz, 1992, and Paradise, 1990, just to name a few—fter 88 summers, returns to her beloved ancestors.

These commentaries are recorded by Noelle, Henry of prison radio.