Tag: “The Bluest Eye”

R.I.P. Acclaimed Author Toni Morrison, 88, Nobel Laureate and Pulitzer Prize Winner

Nobel laureate and Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author Toni Morrison, who wrote the acclaimed novels “Beloved,” ”Song of Solomon,” “The Bluest Eye,” “Jazz,” and “Sula” among other works, has passed away at age 88.

According to yahoo.com, publisher Alfred A. Knopf announced that Morrison died Monday night at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. Morrison’s family issued a statement through Knopf saying she died after a brief illness.

“Toni Morrison passed away peacefully last night surrounded by family and friends,” the family announced. “The consummate writer who treasured the written word, whether her own, her students or others, she read voraciously and was most at home when writing.”

“Her writing was not just beautiful but meaningful — a challenge to our conscience and a call to greater empathy,” Obama wrote Tuesday on his Facebook page. “She was as good a storyteller, as captivating, in person as she was on the page.”

“Narrative has never been merely entertainment for me,” she said in her Nobel lecture. “It is, I believe, one of the principal ways in which we absorb knowledge.”

The second of four children of a welder and a domestic worker, Morrison was born Chloe Ardelia Wofford in Lorain, Ohio, a steel town outside of Cleveland. She was encouraged by her parents to read and to think, and was unimpressed by the white kids in her community.

Recalling how she felt like an “aristocrat,” Morrison believed she was smarter and took it for granted she was wiser. She was an honors student in high school, and attended Howard University because she dreamed of life spent among black intellectuals.

Kendrick Lamar Visits a New Jersey High School That Uses His Work to Help Teach Literature

The hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar, at right in gray shirt, in a poetry slam Monday at High Tech High School in North Bergen, N.J. (Credit: Karsten Moran for The New York Times )

When Brian Mooney’s students struggled in March to digest the literary themes and dense language in Toni Morrison’s novel “The Bluest Eye,” Mr. Mooney sought inspiration from an unorthodox teacher of his own: the two-time Grammy winner and world-famous rapper Kendrick Lamar.

Mr. Mooney, who teaches freshman English at High Tech High School in North Bergen, N.J., played Mr. Lamar’s album (edited, of course) “To Pimp a Butterfly” to draw correlations to Ms. Morrison’s novel.

Using a literary lens called “hip-hop ed” that he learned during his graduate courses at Teachers College at Columbia University, Mr. Mooney asked his students to reflect on the dichotomy of black culture in America — the celebration of itself and its struggle with historic oppression. His students’ sudden understanding shined through essays, colorful canvases and performance art.

Mr. Mooney, 29, blogged about his curriculum and shared his students’ work online. The blog racked up over 10,000 Facebook shares, and hardly a month passed before Mr. Lamar discovered it.

On Monday, Mr. Lamar not only became a guest lecturer in Mooney’s small classroom at High Tech, but he also became a pupil. Mr. Lamar’s manager sent a note to Mr. Mooney in April saying the performer was interested in visiting. He did not charge a fee, but the school and its foundation paid for the stage setup.

“I was feeling incredibly grateful and humbled that my work received that much exposure and reached that wide of an audience that Kendrick himself read it,” Mr. Mooney said.

Continue reading “Kendrick Lamar Visits a New Jersey High School That Uses His Work to Help Teach Literature”