Toni Morrison, Sonia Sanchez and Ta-Nehisi Coates Remember Orlando and Ali
Toni Morrison, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Sonia Sanchez attend Art & Social Activism, a discussion on Broadway on June 15, 2016 in New York City.Craig Barritt/Getty Images for The Stella Adler Studio of Acting
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Coates, the bestselling author of "Between the World and Me," admitted he was "a little overwhelmed" to sit on the stage among the very women who influenced his studies during his time at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
"When you got to Howard," Coates said, "they give you this whole thing about people whose footsteps you were following in."
The literary legends remembered Muhammad Ali. Morrison edited Muhammad Ali's first book, "The Greatest." She recalled him often giving his attention to the men in the room, ignoring her inquiries because of her gender. Over time, she was able to command his respect, as she learned that he would defer to an authoritative, motherly figure. So that's what she became.
"Ali would get tired of signing and he wouldn't tell you," Morrison said. "So I would have someone bring him a baby." Letting Ali play with the baby was a silent way for his hands to rest in between signatures.