Educator, activist and poet Sonia Sanchez, 87, has been awarded the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, a $250,000 cash award established in 1994 through the will of actress Lillian Gish. Gish wished to recognized people who have "made an outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind’s enjoyment and understanding of life.”
Nominated by the arts community and chosen by a distinguished committee of arts leaders, Sanchez is being recognized for "inspiring change through the power of the word."
A leader within the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s, Sanchez has written more than 20 books throughout her career, including Shake Loose My Skin: New and Selected Poems, Homegirls and Handgrenades and Collected Poems, published earlier this year. She taught at Temple University for more than two decades, where she was the Laura Carnell Chair in English and the university’s first Presidential Fellow. She has lectured at more than five hundred universities and colleges in the United States
“What an honor it is to receive this award, most especially since we as a country are attempting to answer the most important question facing us: what does it mean to be human?” Sanchez said in a statement. “I promise, as other artists do, that I will continue to write and talk about the importance of answering this question — the importance of celebrating the beauty of the world and its people.”