Black History Month: Dr. Derek Adams speaks of author Toni Morrison and Grace

Alyssa Smith, Staff Writer

Dr. Derek Adams spoke to LCSC students, faculty and the local community Feb. 10 during the second week of LCSC’s annual Black History Month events.
His talk was entitled “The Only Grace You Can Have Is the Grace You Can Imagine: Reflecting on the Legacy of Toni Morrison.”
Dr. Marlowe Daly-Galeano, an English professor, introduced her friend and colleague, Dr. Adams, who is an associate professor of English and African American literature at Ithaca College in New York.
Dr. Adams spoke Monday, Feb. 10, for about an hour about Morrison’s works and how African American authors, like Morrison, are sometimes expected to teach readers how to overcome racism when we should be doing that work ourselves.
Toni Morrison is an author of fiction who won the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012 and was deemed “The great American novelist” by Time Magazine.
Dr. Adams recalled a talk that he attended years before where Morrison took questions afterward about current issues at the time. He spoke of the pressure she must have felt by having her works trying to speak and answer for the social, economic and political reasons regarding the dismantling racism.
The Ithaca professor reminded the audience that Morrison was just one person and an extraordinary single mother who raised two children while working as an editor. He said that she wrote the things “she wanted to read.”
This meant that the white world was oftentimes peripheral to the black communities that were central to her stories.
In an act of self-love, “she wanted to imagine her own liberation”… “writing untethered from the white gaze,” he said.
Morrison published many well-known books, such as Beloved, Song of Solomon, Sula, Tar Baby, Paradise, and Home.
Her protagonists are often strong, multifaceted women who live complex lives.
Morrison’s works are frequently assumed to be about contemporary issues in the United States regarding African Americans. However, Dr. Adams made a point to say that each person needs to find the courage to take the hard work on themselves and be responsible for their own learning and storytelling.
His talk is one of the many featured this month that are sponsored in part by Rosehill Estate, LCSC Center for Arts and History, Silverthorne Series, LCSC Humanities Division, TourWest and the Episcopal Church of the Nativity.
The next Black History Month presentation features the documentary “13th” Thursday, Feb. 13 at the Library TCC at 7 p.m. followed immediately by a student panel, led by LCSC student JaeDa Lay.