I met Toni Morrison, the Nobel prize winner who passed away a few days go, when I was on a committee of the Unitarian-Universalist Association to choose the winner of The Melcher Book Award in 1988.
The award is given by the UUA to the book that most contributes to “religious liberalism.” It is more often given to the book that the people on the committee find the most moving and significant – that year was the first time it was given to a novel – Morrison’s Beloved.
I had a chance to speak with her at a party before the award presentation and I will never forget something she said. We were talking of the many statues of soldiers of assorted wars and when we spoke of the statues of generals of the Civil War she said
There is no statue of a slave, or anything commemorating those who were enslaved – not even a bench on the Mississippi river.
The words were seared in my mind.