Sonia Sanchez, the iconic poet, activist, and educator, has been awarded the Edward MacDowell Medal, a lifetime achievement honor that started in 1960 and previously was given to Robert Frost, Toni Morrison, and Stephen Sondheim, among others.

“I had tears in my eyes as I learned about this award,” Sanchez, 87, said in a statement released Sunday by MacDowell. “When I consider my dear friend, Sister Toni (Morrison), and so many others who have been given this award, I feel so welcomed to be part of that group. It is a great honor to be this year’s awardee. MacDowell has such a great herstory and history of caring and concern for artists; it is a joy this place exists to keep the world on a path toward re-civilization, peace, and humanity.”

MacDowell is an artist-focused residency that was founded in 1907. James Baldwin, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Leonard Bernstein, and many others are included in their fellows’ alumni list.

Sanchez, who rose to prominence as part of the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, became known for her poetry collections as Homegirls and Handgrenades and Shake Loose My Skin.

Novelist Walter Mosley will be on hand to present the medal to Sanchez on July 10 on the MacDowell grounds in Peterborough, New Hampshire. This will mark the first in-person ceremony since 2019, the year before the pandemic.

“Sonia Sanchez’s illustrious career spans seven decades. Her commanding oeuvre continues to elevate language’s ability to give voice to entire communities (their daily pleasures and pains) inside our shared and troubled history,” poet and playwright Claudia Rankine, chair of this year’s MacDowell Medal selection panel, said in a statement.

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