120 Inspiring Toni Morrison Quotes on Writing, Love and Life

Toni Morrison, a celebrated author, trailblazer and educator, deeply impacted global literature and society through her works.

Born Chloe Anthony Wofford in 1931, her early life experiences of racial discrimination in Lorain, Ohio, shaped her worldview.

A passionate reader and intellectual, she used her voice to shed light on African American life and racial dynamics.

Toni Morrison

Her academic journey at Howard and Cornell Universities fostered connections and insights that significantly influenced her work.

Morrison was not only an accomplished author, with her works including ‘The Bluest Eye’, ‘Sula’ and the Pulitzer Prize-winning ‘Beloved’, but also a dedicated teacher, editor at Random House and professor at Princeton University.

She is renowned for her poignant commentary on race relations, Morrison became the first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.

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She was honored with a Presidential Medal of Freedom and named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress and she continues to inspire a new generation of writers and artists.

I have selected the wise quotes by Toni Morrison in this post.

Best Toni Morrison Quotes

My world did not shrink because I was a black female writer. It just got bigger. ~ Toni Morrison.

Like any artist without an art form, she became dangerous. ~ Toni Morrison.

When a man angers you, he conquers you. ~ Toni Morrison.


I get angry about things, then go on and work. ~ Toni Morrison.

Can’t nothing heal without pain, you know. ~ Toni Morrison.

Death is a sure thing but life is just as certain. Problem is you can’t know in advance. ~ Toni Morrison.

You just can’t mishandle creatures and expect success. ~ Toni Morrison.

What’s the world for you if you can’t make it up the way you want it? ~ Toni Morrison.

I didn’t fall in love, I rose in it. ~ Toni Morrison.

I wanted to separate color from race. ~ Toni Morrison.

I wrote my first novel because I wanted to read it. ~ Toni Morrison.

When you know your name, you should hang on to it, for unless it is noted down and remembered, it will die when you do. ~ Toni Morrison.

If you’re going to hold someone down you’re going to have to hold on by the other end of the chain. You are confined by your own repression. ~ Toni Morrison.

People say to write about what you know. I’m here to tell you, no one wants to read that, cos you don’t know anything. So write about something you don’t know. And don’t be scared, ever. ~ Toni Morrison.

He relished never knowing what lay in his path, who might approach with what intention. ~ Toni Morrison.

Black literature is taught as sociology, as tolerance, not as a serious, rigorous art form. ~ Toni Morrison.

Top Toni Morrison Quotes

Me and you, we got more yesterday than anybody. We need some kind of tomorrow. ~ Toni Morrison.

Love is divine only and difficult always. ~ Toni Morrison.

Black women are the touchstone by which all that is human can be measured. ~ Toni Morrison.

The peace I am thinking of is the dance of an open mind when it engages another equally open one. ~ Toni Morrison.

From my point of view, your life is already a miracle of chance waiting for you to shape its destiny. ~ Toni Morrison.

When I woke up I reminded myself that freedom is never free. You have to fight for it. Work for it and make sure you are able to handle it. ~ Toni Morrison.

All important things are hard. ~ Toni Morrison.

If you can’t imagine it, you can’t have it. ~ Toni Morrison.


You are your best thing. ~ Toni Morrison.

To be given dominion over another is a hard thing; to wrest dominion over another is a wrong thing; to give dominion of yourself to another is a wicked thing. ~ Toni Morrison.

In this country American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate. ~ Toni Morrison.

I always know the ending; that’s where I start. ~ Toni Morrison.

Love is never any better than the lover. ~ Toni Morrison.

At some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough. You don’t need to photograph, paint or even remember it. It is enough. ~ Toni Morrison.

I always start out with an idea, even a boring idea, that becomes a question I don’t have answers to. ~ Toni Morrison.

The enemy is not men. The enemy is the concept of patriarchy, the concept of patriarchy as the way to run the world or do things. ~ Toni Morrison.

Inspirational Toni Morrison Quotes

What I think the political correctness debate is really about is the power to be able to define. The definers want the power to name. And the defined are now taking that power away from them. ~ Toni Morrison.

The best art is political and you ought to be able to make it unquestionably political and irrevocably beautiful at the same time. ~ Toni Morrison.

It was a fine cry – loud and long – but it had no bottom and it had no top, just circles and circles of sorrow. ~ Toni Morrison.

I don’t think one parent can raise a child. I don’t think two parents can raise a child. You really need the whole village. ~ Toni Morrison.

No matter what all your teeth and wet fingers anticipated, there was no accounting for the way that simple joy could shake you. ~ Toni Morrison.

A coward with a gun is the most dangerous person in the world. ~ Toni Morrison.

Art invites us to know beauty and to solicit it, summon it, from even the most tragic of circumstances. ~ Toni Morrison.

Sweet, crazy conversations full of half sentences, daydreams and misunderstandings more thrilling than understanding could ever be. ~ Toni Morrison.

A little black girl yearns for the blue eyes of a little white girl, and the horror at the heart of her yearning is exceeded only by the evil of fulfillment. ~ Toni Morrison.

If you want to fly, you have to give up the things that weigh you down. ~ Toni Morrison.

Some things you forget. Other things you never do. ~ Toni Morrison.

When there is pain, there are no words. All pain is the same. ~ Toni Morrison.

If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it. ~ Toni Morrison.

Thoughtful Toni Morrison Quotes

We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives. ~ Toni Morrison.

Freedom is choosing your responsibility. It’s not having no responsibilities; it’s choosing the ones you want. ~ Toni Morrison.


Love is or it ain’t. Thin love ain’t love at all. ~ Toni Morrison.

Evil is just sort of ultimately boring. The good thing is just complicated. It’s more provocative to me and more stimulating to me. ~ Toni Morrison.

I can’t explain inspiration. A writer is either compelled to write or not. And if I waited for inspiration I wouldn’t really be a writer. ~ Toni Morrison.

If happiness is anticipation with certainty, we were happy. ~ Toni Morrison.

Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul. ~ Toni Morrison.

A dream is just a nightmare with lipstick. ~ Toni Morrison.

I’m a believer in the power of knowledge and the ferocity of beauty, so from my point of view, your life is already artful – waiting, just waiting for you to make it art. ~ Toni Morrison.

If you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. ~ Toni Morrison.

We never shape the world… the world shapes us. ~ Toni Morrison.

You rely on a sentence to say more than the denotation and the connotation; you revel in the smoke that the words send up. ~ Toni Morrison.

Don’t ever think I fell for you, or fell over you. I didn’t fall in love, I rose in it. ~ Toni Morrison.

Wise Toni Morrison Quotes

Narrative is radical, creating us at the very moment it is being created. ~ Toni Morrison.

Look to yourself. You free. Nothing and nobody is obliged to save you but you… Somewhere inside you is that free person I’m talking about. Locate her and let her do some good in the world. ~ Toni Morrison.

It is sheer good fortune to miss somebody long before they leave you. ~ Toni Morrison.

All art is knowing when to stop. ~ Toni Morrison.

Women’s rights is not only an abstraction, a cause; it is also a personal affair. It is not only about us; it is also about me and you. Just the two of us. ~ Toni Morrison.

Passion is never enough; neither is skill. ~ Toni Morrison.


Today is always here… Tomorrow, never. ~ Toni Morrison.

But to find out the truth about how dreams die, one should never take the word of the dreamer. ~ Toni Morrison.

The function of freedom is to free someone else. ~ Toni Morrison.

Lay my head on the railroad line. Train come along; pacify my mind. ~ Toni Morrison.

Beauty was not simply something to behold; it was something one could do. ~ Toni Morrison.

I stood at the border, stood at the edge and claimed it as central. l claimed it as central, and let the rest of the world move over to where I was. ~ Toni Morrison.

Race is the least reliable information you can have about someone. It’s real information, but it tells you next to nothing. ~ Toni Morrison.

Famous Toni Morrison Quotes

Black women have always been friends. I mean, if you didn’t have each other you had nothing. ~ Toni Morrison.

If you can only be tall because someone else is on their knees, then you have a serious problem. And white people have a very, very serious problem. ~ Toni Morrison.

Anger is better. There is a sense of being in anger. A reality and presence. An awareness of worth. It is a lovely surging. ~ Toni Morrison.

I’m always annoyed about why black people have to bear the brunt of everybody else’s contempt. If we are not totally understanding and smiling, suddenly we’re demons. ~ Toni Morrison.

Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined. ~ Toni Morrison.

Correct what you can; learn from what you can’t. ~ Toni Morrison.

There in the center of that silence was not eternity but the death of time and a loneliness so profound the word itself had no meaning. ~ Toni Morrison.

Something that is loved is never lost. ~ Toni Morrison.

Your life is already artful-waiting, just waiting, for you to make it art. ~ Toni Morrison.

There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal. ~ Toni Morrison.

If writing is thinking and discovery and selection and order and meaning, it is also awe and reverence and mystery and magic. ~ Toni Morrison.

Make a difference about something other than yourselves. ~ Toni Morrison.

Inspiring Toni Morrison Quotes

Black people are victims of an enormous amount of violence. None of those things can take place without the complicity of the people who run the schools and the city. ~ Toni Morrison.

All paradises, all utopias are designed by who is not there, by the people who are not allowed in. ~ Toni Morrison.

If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it. ~ Toni Morrison.

Language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names. Language alone is meditation. ~ Toni Morrison.

Let your face speak what’s in your heart. ~ Toni Morrison.

We live in the world… the whole world. Separating us, isolating us, that’s always been their weapon. Isolation kills generations. ~ Toni Morrison.

Along with the idea of romantic love, she was introduced to another – physical beauty. Probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought. Both originated in envy, thrived in insecurity, and ended in disillusion. ~ Toni Morrison.

Birth, life, and death – each took place on the hidden side of a leaf. ~ Toni Morrison.

The pieces I am, she gather them and gave them back to me in all the right order. ~ Toni Morrison.

I dream a dream that dreams back at me. ~ Toni Morrison.

In times of dread, artists must never choose to remain silent. ~ Toni Morrison.

How exquisitely human was the wish for permanent happiness, and how thin human imagination became trying to achieve it. ~ Toni Morrison.

You couldn’t learn age, but adulthood was there for all. ~ Toni Morrison.

Being good to somebody is just like being mean to somebody. Risky. You don’t get nothing for it. ~ Toni Morrison.

Don’t beg anybody for anything, especially love. ~ Toni Morrison.

From my point of view, which is that of a storyteller, I see your life as something artful, waiting, just waiting and ready for you to make it art. ~ Toni Morrison.

If you can’t count, they can cheat you. If you can’t read, they can beat you. ~ Toni Morrison.

Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge. ~ Toni Morrison.

Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another. ~ Toni Morrison.

When they fall in love with a city, it is for forever and it is like forever. ~ Toni Morrison.

Beloved, you are my sister, you are my daughter, you are my face; you are me. ~ Toni Morrison.

Long before I was a success, my parents made me feel like I could be one. ~ Toni Morrison.

The ability of writers to imagine what is not the self, to familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar, is the test of their power. ~ Toni Morrison.

A bestseller is a book that non-book buyers buy. ~ Toni Morrison.

Unique Toni Morrison Quotes

Somebody has to take responsibility for being a leader. ~ Toni Morrison.


Anything dead coming back to life hurts. ~ Toni Morrison.

What you do to children matters. And they might never forget. ~ Toni Morrison.

As you enter positions of trust and power, dream a little before you think. ~ Toni Morrison.

Nothing could be counted on in a world, where even when you were a solution you were a problem. ~ Toni Morrison.

Shallow believers prefer a shallow God. ~ Toni Morrison.

When a child walks in the room, your child or anybody else’s child, do your eyes light up? That’s what they’re looking for. ~ Toni Morrison.

I’m interested in the way in which the past affects the present and I think that if we understand a good deal more about history, we automatically understand a great more about contemporary life. ~ Toni Morrison.

Grown don’t mean nothing to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown. In my heart it don’t mean a thing. ~ Toni Morrison.

Movements toward freedom and the self-respect that comes from something other than what people think is their most important feature. ~ Toni Morrison.


All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was. ~ Toni Morrison.

Love is divine only and difficult always. If you think it is easy you are a fool. If you think it is natural you are blind. It is a learned application without reason or motive except that it is God. ~ Toni Morrison.

Being able to laugh got me through. ~ Toni Morrison.

So these were the 120 top Toni Morrison quotes on freedom, writing, love and life.

If you like these quotes and sayings, then you can also read my other posts on Audre Lorde quotes and Walt Whitman quotes.

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Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

I’m the Founder of Internet Pillar - I love sharing quotes and motivational content to inspire and motivate people - #quotes #motivation #internetpillar