by Bill Batson
Friends, neighbors and admirers of Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison will gather in Nyack’s Memorial Park at 5:30pm, today, August 7, to say farewell to a friend.
Rain clouds are predicted for this afternoon: if that proves to be the case, today’s tribute will be held indoors at The Nyack Center at 6p.
The public is urged to bring one of her books or essays so that her words can be read and her legacy contemplated.
The gathering is planned for the spot that Morrison graced with her presence on May 18, 2015 when she dedicated a bench to the memory of abolitionist Cynthia Hesdra. On that day she said:
There is no place you or I can go, to think about or not think about, to summon the presences of, or recollect the absences of slaves . . . There is no suitable memorial, or plaque, or wreath, or wall, or park, or skyscraper lobby. There’s no 300-foot tower, there’s no small bench by the road. There is not even a tree scored, an initial that I can visit or you can visit in Charleston or Savannah or New York or Providence or better still on the banks of the Mississippi.”
Now, thanks to the Bench by the Road Society that she inspired, Nyack is one of 25 locations around the world where people can summon the presence of ancestors swept away in the wind and water of the African diaspora.
Morrison will be missed, but her words will transcend time, and her benches will always be a place for the public to reflect on her words, and the history of a marginalized people she spend her life celebrating.
Nyack News And Views columnist, author, activist and sketch artist Bill Batson was one of the organizers of the 2015 Bench By The Road dedication in Nyack Memorial Park.
- It’s Bench By The Road Day in Nyack, 5/18/2015
- Nyack Sketch Log: A Bench By The Underground Railroad, 5/19/2015