Toni Morrison receives Presidential Medal of Freedom

Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison

Photo by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

Toni Morrison, the renowned author and the Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities Emeritus at Princeton University, was named by President Barack Obama a 2012 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.

The 13 recipients are individuals who have made "especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors," according to the White House. The awards, which were inaugurated in 1945, will be presented at a White House ceremony later this spring.

In 1993, Morrison became the first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize in literature.

Morrison came to Princeton in 1989 to teach literature and writing.  She was a member of the University's creative writing program and founded the Princeton Atelier, which brings to campus renowned artists from all fields to collaborate with students on original performances, productions and exhibitions.

Morrison retired from Princeton in 2006 and continues to write today. She is the author of nine novels, including "Beloved," which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988, as well as "The Bluest Eye," "Sula, "Song of Solomon," and "Jazz." Her upcoming novel, "Home," will be published in early May.

Morrison's numerous awards include the National Humanities Medal in 2000. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society.

Before joining the Princeton faculty, Morrison served as a senior editor at Random House for 20 years. She has held teaching posts at Yale University, Bard College and Rutgers University. She received a bachelor's degree from Howard University in 1953 and a master's degree in American literature from Cornell University in 1955.

Among the recipients of this year's Presidential Medal of Freedom is John Doar, a 1944 Princeton alumnus, who was a public servant and leader of federal efforts to protect and enforce civil rights during the 1960s. Doar today practices law at Doar Rieck Kaley & Mack in New York.

More information on the winners can be found on the White House website.