Thinking deeply, dreaming imaginatively, reading critically, reflecting incisively and then writing compellingly is the very essence of what it means to give power to voice. Prairie View A&M University aims to educate its students to become change leaders in an increasingly more diverse, globally interconnected world. Students will be inspired to uncover their hidden talents and to hone their skills as they learn to craft the unique characteristics of various literary genres, comprehend the expectations of the publishing process and benefit from the resources available in a competitive yet supportive writers’ world.
Led by Provost Emerita and Professor E. Joahanne Thomas-Smith and organizationally housed in the College of Arts and Sciences, the Program features an annual Writer-in-Residence who will offer public readings, master classes, lectures, class visitations and critiques of students’ works. There will come summer writing workshops, informal book discussions with prominent authors, a scholarship program, contests and, eventually, a full curriculum supporting a degree program in creative writing and other linguistic expression. In keeping with the University’s land grant mission, the University will include an outreach component wherein area high schools and elementary schools will become Toni Morrison Writing Program partners. A most prominent partner to the Toni Morrison Writing Program is the Ruth J. Simmons Center for Race and Justice, thus fostering exploration of social justice from the perspective of literature, public policy, entertainment, environmental science, athletics, health and other areas.
The Toni Morrison Writing Program was made possible via a substantial gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott in early 2021. Scott was Morrison’s student during her time at Princeton and attributes much of her development as an author to Morrison’s mentorship.