WEST POINT - Toni Morrison, acclaimed novelist, editor, educator and current Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities at Princeton University, spoke with cadets enrolled in English 102 on Friday, March 22, 2013 at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY.
The Class of 2016 began the year reading the Nobel- and Pulitzer-prize winning author’s short story, "Recitatif", and her most recent novel, "Home." Both works were mandatory readings for class requirements.
The 82-year-old Presidential Medal of Freedom winner read excerpts from her current book, and began fielding questions from cadets. Some asked her for clarification on statements made in interviews given years ago.
Others on hand had questions relating to her recent book "Home" and some of its characters.
Some cadets wanted Morrison’s point of view on racism and race relations today. Morrison responded saying racists are consumed by their bad feelings.
"Can you imagine how little, or how low they must feel? How cowardly?" she questioned.
A young African American cadet inquired about which of her other books Morrison would recommend to readers. The cadet, citing a quote Morrison gave that, "every African American should read ‘Song of Solomon,’" wanted the author’s updated "must read" book list.
Morrison, with a big smile, replied that she was "thinking of sales" when she gave that answer. Continuing the line of humor, she continued, "Everyone should read all my books," which garnered applause and laughter.
After spending almost an hour with the cadets, Morrison stuck around and autographed copies of her books.
A spokesperson for the Department of English and Philosophy said they were "honored to have Ms. Morrison visit personally to speak with the cadets and offer a valuable academic development experience.
"Ms. Morrison is the nation’s greatest living writer; the opportunity to host her is rare, exceptional and historic."
According to the Department, Morrison is the most notable literary figure to speak at West Point since Ralph Ellison in 1969 and her time at West Point is considered to be on par with famed author William Faulkner’s visit to the academy back in 1962.