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Monday, February 25, 2008

From Toni Morrison: Dear Senator Obama

Dear Senator Obama,

This letter represents a first for me--a public endorsement of a
Presidential candidate. I feel driven to let you know why I am writing
it. One reason is it may help gather other supporters; another is that
this is one of those singular moments that nations ignore at their
peril. I will not rehearse the multiple crises facing us, but of one
thing I am certain: this opportunity for a national evolution (even
revolution) will not come again soon, and I am convinced you are the
person to capture it.

May I describe to you my thoughts?

I have admired Senator Clinton for years. Her knowledge always seemed
to me exhaustive; her negotiation of politics expert. However I am more
compelled by the quality of mind (as far as I can measure it) of a
candidate. I cared little for her gender as a source of my admiration,
and the little I did care was based on the fact that no liberal woman
has ever ruled in America. Only conservative or "new-centrist" ones are
allowed into that realm. Nor do I care very much for your race[s]. I
would not support you if that was all you had to offer or because it
might make me "proud."

In thinking carefully about the strengths of the candidates, I stunned
myself when I came to the following conclusion: that 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. 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. Or if we call searing vision
naivete. Or if we believe cunning is insight.

Or if we settle for finessing cures tailored for each ravaged tree
in the forest while ignoring the poisonous landscape that feeds and
surrounds it. Wisdom is a gift; you can't train for it, inherit it,
learn it in a class, or earn it in the workplace--that access can foster the acquisition of knowledge, but not wisdom.

When, I wondered, was the last time this country was guided by such a
leader? Someone whose moral center was un-embargoed? Someone with
courage instead of mere ambition? Someone who truly thinks of his
country's citizens as "we," not "they"? Someone who understands what it
will take to help America realize the virtues it fancies about itself,
what it desperately needs to become in the world?

Our future is ripe, outrageously rich in its possibilities. Yet
unleashing the glory of that future will require a difficult labor, and
some may be so frightened of its birth they will refuse to abandon their
nostalgia for the womb.

There have been a few prescient leaders in our past, but you are the
man for this time.

Good luck to you and to us.

Toni Morrison

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