For generations, Toni Morrison’s life and work has guided us as writers, readers, and community members. She modeled literary citizenship when public dialogue was halting, uncertain, or unwilling; she reminded us that we determine who can speak and who can claim the mantle of humanity.
Today, Writers Resist, in conjunction with HeadCount.org, issues a call for writers to gather to memorialize one of America’s greatest writers and to reclaim the power of words to uplift us, to communicate truth, and to incite change.
In the essay “Peril,” Morrison writes:
The alarm, the disquiet, writers raise is instructive because it is open and vulnerable,
because if unpoliced it is threatening. Therefore the historical suppression of writers
is the earliest harbinger of the steady peeling away of additional rights and liberties
that will follow. The history of persecuted writers is as long as the history of literature
itself. And the efforts to censure, starve, regulate, and annihilate us are clear signs that
something important has taken place.
Today, we issue a call for writers to gather to memorialize one of America’s greatest writers and to reclaim the power of words to uplift us, to communicate truth, and to incite change.
Our national dialogue is, once again, in true peril. Our democracy is at risk. As we approach a general election, writers today may be filled with dread or doubt or trepidation, but we must follow Morrison’s example. We must inspire action.
Per the U.S. Elections Project, in 2016, 60.1% of voting-eligible Americans cast ballots, with individual states showing lower rates of participation.
On March 29, 2020, join Writers Resist as we come together as writers, readers, citizens, and community members to celebrate, reflect on, and find inspiration in the life and work of Toni Morrison—and to collectively resist peril. As we read Morrison’s words and our own, we also gather to drive voter awareness and participation in the 2020 general election, as well as to work to protect the vote from suppression.
Writers Resist asks you to invite everyone who shares our determination to engage in what Morrison termed “Word Work:” using language to celebrate our differences, reaffirm our dignity, and embrace our humanity. This is our time to resist, to make our voices heard.