A Tribute to Toni Morrison | Mechanics' Institute

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A Tribute to Toni Morrison

Thursday, February 27, 2020 - 6:30pm

Cosponsored by Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD)

Join this extraordinary evening to celebrate and honor one of America’s most important authors who gave voice to of the African American experience through the history of slavery, family and community. This program hosted by author Sarah Lapido Manyika (Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun) features acclaimed Bay Area authors including Michael Chabon (Book ends, Pops, Moonglow), Natalie Baszile (Queen Sugar), poet Tongo Eisen-Martin (Heaven Is All Goodbyes) and Professor Ato Quayson of Stanford University. Panelists will engage in a lively conversation about the influence and impact of Morrison’s life and work and read favorite selections.

Author and essayist Toni Morrison (1931-2019) was known for her portrayals of African American lives and struggles throughout our country’s history with luminous prose and the voice of Black oral traditions.   Her first novel, The Bluest Eye, was published in 1970. Her 1977 novel Song of Solomon (1977) won the National Book Critics Circle Award. In 1988, Morrison won the Pulitzer Prize for Beloved (1987); she gained worldwide recognition when she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. On May 29, 2012, President Barack Obama presented Morrison with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and in 2016, she received the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction.

Sarah Ladipo Manyika (moderator) was raised in Nigeria and has lived in Kenya, France, and England. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and currently teaches literature at San Francisco State University. Sarah’s first novel, In Dependence, was published by Legend Press (London) and Cassava Republic Press (Abuja). Sarah was Chair of Judges for the 2015 Etisalat Prize for Literature.

Natalie Baszile has a B.A. in English from University California, Berkeley, a Masters in Afro-American Studies from UCLA, and earned an M.F.A from Warren Wilson's MFA Program for Writers. An early version of Queen Sugar won the Hurston Wright College Writer's Award, the Sylvia Clare Brown fellowship, and was runner-up in the Faulkner Pirate's Alley novel-in-progress competition. Natalie has had residencies at the Ragdale Foundation, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Hedgebrook. She is a member of the San Francisco Writers' Grotto and lives in San Francisco with her family.

Michael Chabon is the bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, A Model World, Wonder Boys, Werewolves in their Youth, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Summerland, The Final Solution, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Maps & Legends, Gentlemen of the Road, Telegraph Avenue, Moonglow, and the picture book The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man. He lives in Berkeley, California with his wife, the novelist Ayelet Waldman, and their children.

Originally from San Francisco, Tongo Eisen-Martin is a poet, movement worker and educator. His book titled, Someone's Dead Already was nominated for a California Book Award. His book of poems Heaven Is All Goodbyes was published in the City Lights Pocket Poets Series and won the 87th annual California Book Awards gold medal on poetry.  As a human rights activist and educator, he has organized against mass incarceration and extra-judicial killing of Black people throughout the United States. Subscribing to the Freirian model of education, he designed curricula for oppressed people's education projects from San Francisco to South Africa. He has taught at Columbia University and in detention centers across the country.

Ato Quayson is a Fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Society of Canada, and in 2019 was elected Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. He is Professor of English at Stanford. He was a Cambridge Commonwealth Scholar (1991-1994), Chief Examiner in English for the International Baccalaureate (2005-2007) and member of the European Research Council (2010-2017). He has also held Fellowships at the Du Bois Institute for African American Studies at Harvard (2004), and the Research Centre in the Humanities at Australian National University (2015). He has lectured widely in Africa, Europe, Canada, the United States, Singapore, Turkey, Hong Kong, Australia, and various other places. 


Mechanics' Institute Members $5
MoAD Members $5
Public $15
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2nd Floor Library
Pam Troy - 415-393-0116
Register now by using the form below or calling 415-393-0101.

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