Sullivan’s Island, SC – Toni Morrison, the Nobel laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winning author behind such acclaimed novels as “Beloved,” died at a New York City hospital on Monday from complications of pneumonia, a spokesman said. She was 88.
A piece of her legacy remains on Sullivan’s Island.
On Sullivan’s Island sits a black bench. Placed there in July 2008, it’s the first bench as part of the Toni Morrison Society’s Bench by the Road Project. The benches that now pepper 20 communities across the world, honor the memory enslaved Africans who perished during the Middle Passage and those who arrived on Sullivan’s Island, which was a major point of entry for Africans brought to the US during the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
The Bench by the Road Project is a memorial history and community outreach initiative of the Toni Morrison Society. The Project was launched on February 18, 2006. The name “Bench by the Road” is taken from Morrison’s remarks in a 1989 interview with World Magazine where she spoke of the absences of historical markers that help remember the lives of Africans who were enslaved, according to the organization’s website.
“There is no suitable memorial or plaque or wreath or wall or park or skyscraper lobby. There is no 300-foot tower. There’s no small bench by the road,” she famously said.
Since 2006, the Toni Morrison Society has placed 20 Benches at sites, including Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina; Walden Woods in Lincoln, Massachusetts; The 20th Arrondissement in Paris, France; Fort-de-France, Martinique; and, most recently, the Schomburg Center in Harlem, New York, according to the organization.