BLACK VOICES

Powerful 1970s Photograph Of Toni Morrison Walking With Angela Davis Resurfaces

"Our relationship was grounded in that editing relationship, which became a friendship as well," the civil rights icon said about the late novelist in June.

People shared a powerful photograph of Toni Morrison walking side by side with activist Angela Davis all over Twitter on Tuesday as the world grieves the loss of the Nobel- and Pulitzer-winning author.

Photographer and author Jill Krementz captured the 1974 shot of the two influential Black figures, who can be seen engaging in a conversation as they walk along a New York City sidewalk.

Seven Stories Press, a New York-based publishing company, was among the many Twitter users to share the photograph on Tuesday:

Morrison, a Pulitzer Prize winner who made history as the first Black woman to receive the Nobel Prize in literature in 1993, died at age 88 on Monday night. On Tuesday, people mourned the loss of the author, who received numerous accolades for her novels, including “Beloved,” “Sula,” “The Bluest Eye” and “Song of Solomon.” 

Davis, a civil rights icon and scholar, often praised Morrison and their decadeslong friendship over the years.

Morrison served as an editor at Random House for nearly two decades, where she edited and helped publicize works by many Black writers, including Davis.

During a conversation at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 2014, Davis said Morrison persuaded her to write an autobiography when the activist was in her 20s. 

“I wasn’t so much interested in writing an autobiography. I was very young,” Davis said at the event. She later added, “But Toni Morrison persuaded me that I could write it the way I wanted to; it could be the story not only of my life but of the movement in which I had become involved, and she was successful.”

Morrison, who was also a speaker at the event, said she felt it was her responsibility to “publish African American and African writers who would otherwise not be published or not be published well, or edited well.” 

Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, joined by Susan Taylor, Rita Dove, Oprah Winfrey, Angela Davis, Maya Angelou and others, at a p
Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, joined by Susan Taylor, Rita Dove, Oprah Winfrey, Angela Davis, Maya Angelou and others, at a party in Winston-Salem. 

Davis was featured in a documentary about Morrison, “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am,” by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, which was released in June.

The civil rights activist told The Wall Street Journal in an interview that month that Morrison was one of the first Black writers she’d encountered who “did not eschew the label of ‘Black writer.’”

Morrison, born Chloe Ardelia Wofford in Lorain, Ohio, on Feb. 18, 1931, was often vocal about her intention to center Black characters and their experiences in her works. 

Davis told the Journal, which also published the striking photo of the activist walking with Morrison in its June article, that the “Beloved” author was a “phenomenal editor.” 

“She paid so much attention to detail yet did not insist on having a work become a reflection of her own ideas,” she continued. “She asked me questions that challenged my imagination — she asked me to remember differently. Our relationship was grounded in that editing relationship, which became a friendship as well.”

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