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Toni Morrison Awarded UCLA Medal


By Kristen Hardy '17

Published Oct 7, 2015 8:00 AM

The acclaimed author and Nobel prize winner recently received UCLA's highest honor.


Photo by Timothy Greenfield-Sander

Nobel laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Toni Morrison was awarded the UCLA Medal, the campus’s highest honor, on Monday, Oct. 5. She participated via video conference in a panel discussion that celebrated her contributions to American literature and culture.

The title of the event was “Black Lives Matter: Artists and Intellectuals Creating a Movement.”

The UCLA Medal is presented to those of exceptionally distinguished academic and professional achievement whose work embodies UCLA’s highest ideals. The medal citation calls Morrison ”one of the most celebrated authors and distinguished professors in American history … [who] has created works characterized by epic themes, vivid dialogue and richly drawn characters.”

Other panelists included Robin D.G. Kelley, a distinguished professor of history; Gary B. Nash, endowed chair in history; Cheryl Harris, the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation Chair in Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in the UCLA School of Law; Shamell Bell, a community organizer, choreographer and Ph.D. student in culture and performance in the Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance; and Patrisse Cullors, a Los Angeles-based artist, organizer and founder of Dignity and Power Now, and co-creator of #BlackLivesMatter.

Morrison received the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for her novel Beloved. In 1993, she became the first African-American woman to win a Nobel Prize. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012. She is a professor emeritus at Princeton University.

The UCLA Medal was awarded to the distinguished author in conjunction with performances of Desdemona, a play she wrote in collaboration with Malian musician Rokia Traoré, at the Freud Playhouse Oct. 8-11.

This story is based on an article in the UCLA Newsroom. To view the original full-length article, visit



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