16 November 2016, New York City, New York, USA
Thank you, thank you.
This is unreal.
This is unbelievable … some of you know I grew up in rural Alabama, very poor, very few books in our home. I remember in 1956, when I was 16 years old, with some of my brothers and sisters and cousins, going down to the public library, trying to get a library card, and we were told the library was for whites only and not for coloureds.
And to come here and receive this award .. this honor, it’s too much.
But I had a wonderful teacher in elementary school, and she told me 'read my child, read!' and I tried to read everything.
I loved books.
Thank you Andrew, thank you Nate, and thanks to each and every one of you, and thanks to all of the judges. Thank you National Book Foundation.
Thank you so much.