7 p.m. Friday, January 24, 2020
Page Hall, 135 Western Ave., University at Albany Downtown Campus. See map
Free and open to the public.
NOTE: A discussion of Toni Morrison’s life and work featuring members of the University at Albany community will immediately follow a screening of the 2019 documentary "The Pieces I Am." 

We gather to pay tribute to Toni Morrison, giant of American literature, Nobel laureate, University at Albany professor (1984-89), and the subject of the beautiful film, "The Pieces I Am."

"Toni Morrison spent five years as a faculty member at the University at Albany in the 1980s, where she forged a special connection to the NYS Writers Institute," said Paul Grondahl, director of the NYS Writers Institute.

"The Pieces I Am" documentary

(United States, 2019, 120 minutes, color and b/w)
Directed by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

An artful and intimate meditation on the life and works of Toni Morrison – from her childhood in the steel town of Lorain, Ohio, to ʼ70s-era book tours with Muhammad Ali, from the front lines with Angela Davis to her own riverfront writing room.

The film features interviews with the 88-year-old author, as well as Oprah Winfrey, Hilton Als, Angela Davis, Fran Lebowitz, Walter Mosley, Sonia Sanchez and many more.

A Tribute to Toni Morrison:

Film screening and remembrance

Panel discussion

Speakers will include (left to right) Janell Hobson, Professor and Chair of the Department of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at UAlbany; Kyra Gaunt, Assistant Professor of Music & Theatre at UAlbany; Suzanne Lance, retired Associate Director of the Writers Institute and former assistant to Toni Morrison at UAlbany; and Maureen McCoy, Professor Emerita of English at Cornell University, novelist and former Schweitzer Fellow under Toni Morrison at UAlbany. Grondahl, who interviewed Morrison in 1987 when he was a Times Union reporter, will moderate the discussion. 

The Nobel Prize-winning author died at age 88 on August 5, 2019, in New York City. In the 1980s, she shared office space and collaborated frequently with Writers Institute founder William Kennedy. Morrison addressed a packed audience at UAlbany in 1984, just the second featured writer in the Institute's history. She also wrote parts of Beloved, one of the most acclaimed novels in all of American literature, while at UAlbany, and the news of her Pulitzer Prize in 1988 came with a phone call to the Institute's office.


Morrison organized the Institute's “The Birth of Black Cinema” three-day symposium at Page Hall in 1988 that included director Spike Lee. She also brought to campus Ralph Ellison, acclaimed author of The Invisible Man, as well as Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis. Morrison wrote “Dreaming Emmett,” a drama about Emmett Till, and the Writers Institute co-sponsored its premiere at Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany in 1986.

Read more about Toni Morrison's connection with the NYS Writers Institute and UAlbany

Cosponsored by UAlbany’s Office of Diversity & Inclusion and The Women's Leadership Institute at The College of Saint Rose. 

NYS Writers Institute

Science Library 320

University at Albany

1400 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12222

(518) 442-5620

  • Wix Facebook page
  • Wix Twitter page
  • Instagram Social Icon
  • SoundCloud Social Icon
  • YouTube Social  Icon