It is the first major literary award for the 85-year-old writer, who has a long list of accolades including three Grammys Awards, a Pulitzer Prize nomination, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among dozens of others for her poetry and books.
Dr. Angelou said she has never worried too much about literary honors and always celebrated other winners.
"I know that makes me sound like all goody two-shoes," she said to the Associated Press. "But only one name can be chosen for a prize... And, here now, I'm getting an award from the National Book Foundation for lifetime achievement of service to the community! It's a blessing. It's incredible."
The book foundation's executive director, Harold Augenbraum, said Angelou's work "transcends the words on the page." He continued, "She has been on the front lines of history and the fight for social justice and decade after decade remains a symbol of the redemptive power of literature in the contemporary world."
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