Novelist Morrison tells grads to embrace interconnectedness

The bloody and warlike history of the world is all the more reason to be caring citizens going forward, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison advised graduates during Senior Day festivities at Vanderbilt University.

“None of us is alone,” said Morrison, author of popular American novels Beloved and Song of Solomon. “Each of us is dependent on others. Some of us depend on others for life itself.”

Senior Day occurs at Vanderbilt each year the day before Commencement, set this year for May 10 on Alumni Lawn. Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos will address graduating seniors and their families during the ceremony, which begins at 9 a.m. and can be viewed online.

Calling her “an American literary treasure,” Zeppos awarded Morrison The Nichols-Chancellor’s Medal, one of the university’s highest honors, given to individuals who define the 21st century and exemplify the best qualities of the human spirit. It was created and endowed by Vanderbilt Law School graduate Ed Nichols and his wife, Janice, in honor of Edward Carmack and Lucile Hamby Nichols.

“(Morrison’s) heartfelt work illuminates the struggles and triumphs of everyday people, and at the same time, unites us in our common humanity,” Zeppos said.

Morrison said she would share some of the honorarium she will receive as the Nichols-Chancellor’s Medal recipient with Doctors Without Borders.

The program began with interfaith welcomes from student representatives of the Hindu, Jewish, Islamic and Christian faiths.

“Be authentic,” Chancellor Zeppos tells graduates