The world lost a true treasure this week as beloved author Toni Morrison has passed away. Not surprisingly, heartfelt tributes began flooding social media shortly after her family and publisher confirmed the news on Tuesday, Aug. 6. Among the celebrity reactions? Gabrielle Union’s response to Morrison’s death, which captures how we’re all feeling in a way so beautiful and poetic that it seems Union may have been channeling Morrison herself.
Morrison, who was 88 at the time of her death on the evening of Monday, Aug. 5. was an immutable voice in the American vernacular and a visionary storyteller. In 1993, she became the first Black woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. In 2012, she received the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And her rich body of work — ranging from Beloved to Paradise, to children’s books and everything in between — has inspired countless readers.
One of whom is Union, who took to Twitter early Tuesday morning to share her thoughts on Morrison’s passing. “Her words were like mirrors to our collective souls. Like pillows to cushion the blows. Like mothers to wrap us in love. Like friends to hold our hands and see us through the darkness. #RipToniMorrison, Union wrote, adding, “May we lift her up in the light of goodness and hold her there.”
Her words were like mirrors to our collective souls. Like pillows to cushion the blows. Like mothers to wrap us in love. Like friends to hold our hands and see us through the darkness. #RipToniMorrison ❤ you. May we lift her up in the light of goodness and hold her there.
— Gabrielle Union (@itsgabrielleu) August 6, 2019
A testament to Morrison’s scope of influence, celebrities from all different spheres joined Union in celebrating the literary icon. Apple CEO Tim Cook quoted Morrison’s 1994 Nobel Lecture before thanking her for “the beauty you revealed in our world.”
“Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul.” Thank you, Toni Morrison, for the beauty you revealed in our world. Rest in Peace.
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) August 6, 2019
Fellow writers, like TV writer-producer Shonda Rhimes and The Farm author Joanne Ramos, praised her uncanny ability to pull the words out of a person.
She made me understand“writer” was a fine profession. I grew up wanting to be only her. Dinner with her was a night I will never forget. Rest, Queen. “Toni Morrison, seminal author who stirringly chronicled the Black American experience, dies” https://t.co/S6qxix5OCj
— shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) August 6, 2019
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I read Song of Solomon as a teenager, on the cusp of adulthood, when the world was opening up for me. It changed how I read books and how I saw the world—in other words, it changed my life. Over the past summer, I’ve been reading Toni Morrison’s recent book of essays-not easy stuff, but once again, her words have been altering how I see. You could say that Ms Morrison has been a companion of mine for the past three decades, and you’d be right. R.I.P. and thank you #tonimorrison #writerswhomakeyouthink #songofsolomon #thesourceofselfregard
Politicos heralded her as a truth-sayer, using her word as a call to action.
"You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down." — Toni Morrison
A lesson for each of us. A lesson for our country. She may be gone, but her writing, her resolve, and her grace will live on forever.
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) August 6, 2019
Actors, TV personalities, musicians and more also mourned Morrison’s death while celebrating everything the author stood for.
“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”
I cannot imagine growing up in a world without her words. I pray you rest In Peace and in Power.
We will celebrate you with endless gratitude and love. Always.
— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) August 6, 2019
Thank you Toni Morrison for sharing your many gifts with us. “You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.” – Toni Morrison Song of Solomon
— Tamron Hall (@tamronhall) August 6, 2019
RIP Toni Morrison. This is a devastating loss to the world of words, to our understanding of power and it’s reach, to the cultivation of empathy, to rich, nuanced, elegant storytelling. Her work was a gift to every one who had the pleasure of reading her.
— roxane gay (@rgay) August 6, 2019
A towering figure in literature, Toni Morrison, has passed. Winner of the Nobel Prize, and keeper and storyteller for so much of our nation's soul, she was truly Beloved to us all. Rest now, and let us honor you as a nation eternally grateful for your contribution.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) August 6, 2019
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“She is a friend of mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order.” ~Beloved~ “There must be another one like you…There’s got to be at least one more woman like you.”~Song of Solomon ~. My heart…my heart…my heart. I never got a chance to look her in her eyes and thank her for changing how I see myself by how she wrote solely about and for us. She wrote to me in writing to us. She she she…there is nothing that I could write this morning but her words to honor her. Chloe Ardelia Wofford, Toni Morrison, friend of my mind.
It looks as though Morrison is being “lifted up in the light of goodness” by a lot of people right now, and deservedly so.