A Night of Toni Morrison

BY HOPE WEIL, Neighborhood News Bureau

ST. PETERSBURG – Next Tuesday, Nov. 12, the Warehouse Arts District Association will be putting on “A Night of Toni Morrison,” at the Palladium in downtown St. Pete. The free ticketed event is being held to honor the legendary writer Toni Morrison.

“I think that in this day and age, our culture needs something to agree on, and we can all agree on Toni Morrison,” said Diane Morton, executive director at the Warehouse Arts District. “We all can honor her and her body of work.”

Morrison was one of the most influential and important writers of her generation, and this event will celebrate her memory, her words and some of her greatest accomplishments. In 1993, Morrison was the first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.

She died this past August at 88 years old due to complications from pneumonia.

Next Tuesday’s event was initially set to take place at the Warehouse Arts District, but the public response was so overwhelming, it had to be moved to the Palladium to accommodate as many interested parties as possible.

“We can only hold 100 people in our gallery, so when I put it up, I asked people to register, so we knew how many people were coming, and within 22 hours (not even a day) all 100 seats were sold,” said Morton. “And I had developed 800 on the waiting list.”

Morton said the response for this particular event was astounding in comparison to past events hosted by the Warehouse Arts District Association.

The doors for the event will open at 6 p.m., and the show will start at 7 p.m. The four guest speakers scheduled to speak include Morton, St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor, Dr. Kanika Tomalin, Bob Devin Jones, co-founder of The Studio@620 and Colette Bancroft, book editor at the Tampa Bay Times.

Morton said that it would be interesting to hear what each of the speakers chooses to focus on from Morrison’s body of work, as there is a lot to choose from.

Following presentations from the guest speakers, there will be a special screening of Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am, Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ latest documentary featuring Morrison speaking about her life and work as a writer.

“Toni Morrison told universal stories about the human experience and especially showed light on the African American experience that had never happened before,” said Morton. “For her to be a winner of a Noble prize, that certainly shows that her body of work is essential reading for the human condition.”

“I think [the event] is going to be very enlightening, and I think it’s going to be a very respectful and warm event for the community,” said Morton.

Independent bookstore, Tombolo Books, will be on hand selling Morrison’s books, and refreshments will be available for purchase as well.

For more information on the event and to see how you can reserve tickets, go to mypalladium.org

Hope Weil is a student reporter in the Neighborhood News Bureau at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. Visit nnbnews.com for more info.

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