January 28th, 2008
10:00 AM ET
10 years ago

Morrison backs Obama

 Morrison said Monday she is backing Obama.

Morrison said Monday she is backing Obama.

(CNN) - A decade ago, she called Bill Clinton the nation's "first black president." Now, acclaimed black writer Toni Morrison’s first presidential endorsement is going to the potential second, Barack Obama.

In a letter to Obama released Monday morning, the “Beloved” author told him she was backing him because “this is one of those singular moments that nations ignore at their peril.”

“There have been a few prescient leaders in our past, but you are the man for this time,” she wrote

Morrison, who said she had long admired Hillary Clinton, added that her decision to back Obama instead was not based on the Illinois senator’s race.

“In addition to keen intelligence, integrity and a rare authenticity, you exhibit something that has nothing to do with age, experience, race or gender and something I don't see in other candidates,” Morrison wrote. “That something is a creative imagination which coupled with brilliance equals wisdom. It is too bad if we associate it only with gray hair and old age.”

In a statement, Obama thanked Morrison for her endorsement, saying she “has touched a nation with the grace and beauty of her words, and I was deeply moved and honored by the letter she wrote and the support she is giving our campaign.”

In a 1998 New Yorker piece, Morrison wrote of Bill Clinton: “White skin notwithstanding, this is our first black president. Blacker than any actual black person who could ever be elected in our children's lifetime. After all, Clinton displays almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald's-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas.”

- CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (437 Responses)
  1. d

    I have heard nothing from Obama.... he appears to me very arrogant. I will vote for anyone but him.!! No substance during his speeches. Phoney politician...just for his personal gain!

    January 29, 2008 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  2. Colony 14 author

    Morrison's writings are about as sophomoric as Obama's speeches, so exactly where is the news here?

    January 29, 2008 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  3. Alice Stewart

    At last I have hope for our beautiful country again, Obama is the only way out of our unforgivable mess, thanks

    January 29, 2008 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  4. webb

    By her endorsment of Obama she negates her comments made about Clinton in 1998 and shows that no matter how adamently she or anyone claims that it is not about race but other atributes, they are lying to themselves and to other that may hold them in high reguard.

    January 29, 2008 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  5. WW - New York

    This is what’s going wrong in America. People don’t like Obama because he wants to give us hopes. For “centuries”, America was known as a land of hopes and dream. Now we have someone in “politics” who dear tell us we can do anything we set our minds to do! For everyone who thinks Obama is selling us a dream because he’s running for president is false! READ HIS BOOK! He has always talked about hope. I would rather dream than believe there’s no hope. In addition, I would rather have a leader that thinks things through than someone who will make snap judgments. Obama has made our youth feel wanted and important. He’s motivated people who had no interest in government to get involved and gave hope to those who had lost hope. People can say he’s full of hot air; to each their own opinion (I totally respect that), however, I would rather vote for someone who can at least make me think there's hope for the future!

    January 29, 2008 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  6. Attacks by the Establishment on Ron Paul Continue

    Who cares?

    January 29, 2008 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  7. tess

    of course it's about race. do you really think oprah would endorse obama if he were white?-–considering all his qualification and experience. honestly! oprah have a school in africa for girls to train to be leaders, even would -be world leaders and yet here he endorsed obama. sad... mrs. obama also was the one who injected race into this debate twisting pres. clinton words. she said the "fairy tale" refers to the possiblity of a black man being president of this country. but don't take my word for it- maybe i misunderstood what she said. go and watch it. if i am wrong i apologise to all concerned. just go and check it out. i hope to hear form any of you who checked this out. by the way pres. clinton fairy tale refers to obama's stand on iraq war.

    January 29, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  8. Amirah

    For everyone that mistakenly says that Obama is a 'con man' or full of it should really try reading his books. Obama isn't someone that wants to answer every debate 'killer question' with a 'yes' or 'no' answer, which is, for some reason, what the media wants.

    The truth is that the American public needs someone to answer complicated questions with (if it requires it) complicated answers, not a chauvanistic and overly simplistic 'No, I don't support giving drivers licenses to illegal immigrants!' and other quick-fire answers to issues (whether they are ridiculous and media generated or not).

    What the American public needs is a president who will deliver the complicated answers eloquently. None of the issues we face are simple, so get ready to roll up your sleeves. And the American public might *gasp* actually have to listen and think for once, instead of listening to 'bad guy/good guy' labels relating to foreign policy issues or simple 'let's just cut taxes, job done' or other rhetoric that politicians have resorted to because they just think the public is too stupid to understand complicated economic, cultural or historical issues.

    GObama. He's the thinking person's candidate.

    January 29, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  9. Marcia

    What has Toni Morrison done to make you question her integrity? Her choice of candidate is her own, just as you have your own. Why challenge whether she sincerely believes in Obama's ability simply because she is black and he is black.

    For goodness sake, this country elected George W. Bush, twice! But we are willing to completely denounce one poet because she is supporting the candidacy of someone who is unarguably intelligent and thoughtful.

    But black is the only characteristic you see in her choice. Why?

    January 29, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  10. Woman from Canada

    I don't need to judge these candidates as you Americans do ...but I sure wish Barak was campaigning here! I think this endorsement is timely because her name has been dragged through the press for the last too weeks and her quotes have been dissected by pundits and has been a used as verbal weapons and weather or not she had intended to endorse any of the candidates …her opinions has been called to the forefront and she has taken on the charge of clarifying her current stance. She can choose to sway in any direction she pleases because she is an individual just like each of you who felt it important enough for you to speak out right here on this website. She is a Woman that happens to be black and also happens to be well respected a scholar in America and across the world. And in response to the person that loosely through out the number 15% as the percentage of Americans that know who she is …doesn’t paint a good picture of educated Americans as this woman in clearly not only known in the USA but all across the world!
    I digress; Barak is in fact both White and Black! Don’t forget he represents the White, Black and Other! If the #s are correct the 80% blacks are supporting him. I believe that shows that they as a race are willing to be inclusive and not bias. If as an individual feel it’s necessary to downgrade this Race to Race that I suggest it’s high time you look into your willing to support a candidate that represents the so called Black Americans just as much as her represents you. Think about it !

    January 29, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  11. Kevin, Ca

    Welcome to all endorsements to boost up for Obama for Super Tuesday. Will they help or hurt him? Do polls matter anymore after they all failed to predict NH result? what to look for now?

    There is nothing wrong with Obama, everything is fine! A voting guide.

    1.It’s nothing wrong with Obama to accept favors from Rezko. Every politician does favors to collect favors, either for personal or a campaign fund and move on to get elected. If Obama bought land from Rezko less than 300k of market value, so what? Nothing has been proved that he knew it. He said he didn’t know it.

    2.There is perfectly fine with Obama using drugs when he was young, he was just like one of many kids who have used, or will at sometime in their life. But at least Obama was honest to admit it. It was in the past, the law can’t convict him now. A very powerful, and smart message to connect to young voters when he could show he was like one of them, a brother, and an occasional sinner

    3.It’s very naturally clever, and like any smart politician, Obama voted ‘present’ (neither Yes or No) when Obama didn’t want to create enemy on the record especially when his vote didn’t make any difference. That’s why Obama rarely has enemy ( except the Clintons). When enough people likes him, this tactic would prove as one of his most effective way to unite the country.

    4.Obama opposed the Iraq war when he wasn’t yet a senator, and like anybody ( Joe & Moe on the street), and for any reason, one could opposed the war. His decision turned out to be much praised later on although no one has yet heard of why he did at the time. Whatever people want to label this as a lucky guess or a smart side-taking, Obama was right, wasn’t he? Don’t we all know that in sport sometimes a lucky team can win over a good team?

    5.Although it’s against a tradition not to vocally praise your real opponent ( Republican in November) and talk down on your own team ( Democrat) before the competition begins, it’s nothing wrong with Obama when he praised Regan and discredited Clinton era. In fact, it was a very smart strategy when Obama sees the real opponent, at least for now, is Hillary, and the true friends are independent Reagan lovers. Obama will surely switch the tactic when an appropriate time will come. On the other hand, it would show Obama believes himself as honest, and a true uniter with a one-size-fits-all politics when he praised and embraced everybody… republicans, democrats, independents, minority, old, young, women, gays, lesbians, and even the ones who are not old enough to vote.

    6.It makes feel so good to listen, and get excited by Obama speech every time one turns on TV because the speech contains of words rhymed one after the other, very poetic, it feels like the message of change being floating in the air. It’s so inspirational that one doesn’t even need a drink, nor drug to get high, that one can see bright future right away.

    7.It is nothing wrong with 81 % of black voters, 300k more than 2004 primary who came out and voted for Obama in SC. Would you support to a Hispanic candidate if you were a Hispanic and think your candidate could win? But it would be racist if a white voter thinks about voting for a white candidate because he/she’s white.

    8.It is nothing wrong with Obama campaign to stir up the race issue trying to win the SC; it was a smart campaign strategy to persuade black voters especially some of them have previously supported the Bill Clinton aka first black president.

    9.It is perfectly fine, and not so hard to understand when the four biggest Gun, Tobacco, defense, and medical care industries have gone all their ways against the Clintons in the past, present, and future if you put yourselves in their shoes to comprehend how these billionaires feel. Everybody wants to make money, right!? So do they. The Clintons must have been very stupid to create such powerful enemies; they should have been quiet unless they really want more troubles… the lesson of being impeached once hasn’t help them to learn anything though.

    10.There is nothing wrong with the fact that big media like MSNBC, CNN, Fox all hate Clinton’s, destroyed them in daily news reports, through New Hampshire’s mistaken polls… So what!? Imagine if one owns a news network and have nationally broadcast power, he/she would do the same unless one doesn’t realize having such power. Sorry Clinton’s supporters!, that’s life in America!

    11.This was a very smart tactic when a current president (G. Bush), Karl Rove, and Newt Gingrich praised Hillary to be democratic nominee. It’s a common tactic which has been often used in politics, and military to first confuse opponents especially at the time some democrats don’t know who to vote for, then slooowly to enlighten them by pointing to polls that indicates Obama as the only one who could beat Mc Cain.

    If all these above arguments seems ok and normal to you with no questions asked…. Go ahead and vote for Obama!

    January 29, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  12. jasmine


    January 29, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
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