Toni Morrison endorses Obama

The Illinois senator's latest high-profile ally is also the author who once proclaimed Bill Clinton America's first black president.

Published January 28, 2008 6:15PM (EST)

Ever since his victory in South Carolina's Democratic primary Saturday night, the good news has not stopped coming for Barack Obama. First, he picked up a Kennedy hat trick, scoring endorsements from Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and his son Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., as well as Caroline Kennedy, JFK's daughter. Now, he has scored author Toni Morrison.

Morrison is no slouch when it comes to the world of literature; she has won both the Nobel Prize and the Pulitzer. But when it comes to her influence in politics, what immediately comes to mind is her pronouncement in a 1998 article for the New Yorker that Bill Clinton was America's first black president.

In a letter to Obama, though, Morrison explained that her endorsement had nothing to do with Obama's race: "I would not support you if that was all you had to offer or because it might make me 'proud,'" Morrison wrote. "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."

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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