Author Toni Morrison, who has won nearly every book prize possible, was honored recently for her exceptional contributions to literature and the arts and commitment to advancing, supporting and promoting women.
Morrison was awarded the prominent Beacon Award from the University of Pennsylvania’s Trustees’ Council on Penn Women. The ceremony was held in the Harrison Auditorium of the Penn Museum.
University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann made the presentation, and current students from Kelly Writers’ House and Platt Student Performing Arts House read from Morrison’s works.
“In her brief yet impressive speech, Toni Morrison shared a couple of anecdotes. One crucial point Morrison drew attention to was the still insufficient regard women and women’s issues receive all over the world,” said American Studies major Nisa Guzel Kosker.
Morrison shared that she was recently asked to speak on the topic of human rights and include specific focus on women’s rights.
She laughed at this categorized division made between human and women, and simply said “Women are human too!”
“This was striking enough to make everyone in the auditorium laugh at such an awkward way to classify women and underestimate their rights in different societies,” Morrison said.
Morrison was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1988 and a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. Among her best-known novels are “The Bluest Eye,” “Song of Solomon” and “Beloved.”
The Beacon Award is presented to highlight Penn’s commitment to women’s issues and recognizes outstanding leaders who have demonstrated this same commitment.
Morrison is the 11th recipient and now in the company of other Beacon awardees, including U.S. Secretary of State and former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Third Circuit Court Judge Marjorie O. Rendell.
Kosker noted TCPW’s efficiency comes not only from a variety of regularly held addresses to Penn students but also from their detailed attention to female varsity sports, both creating a communal atmosphere for women students.
“This endless enthusiasm and arduous devotion to women’s issues and their representation in public sphere, and commitment to promotional activities since 1987 render their efforts unique and worthwhile,” Kosker said.
Twenty-five years ago, TCPW was created to foster and promote the advancement of women’s issues across Penn, according to Leslie Simon Myers, TCPW chair.
TCPW is dedicated to creating awards and grants to honor students and faculty, as well as making significant contributions to the University through both service and donations.
“We have also set an example for schools across the country to harness the capability of their alumnae to give back,” Myers said. “As we look ahead, we will continue in our mission to create pioneering programs and initiatives that enhance the experience for women across Penn’s campus.”