Author Toni Morrison honored writer Maya Angelou at the National Book Awards this evening with the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community.
“It’s a personal pleasure to honor a friend and artist and a legend,” said Morrison, who said how wonderful it is that such a talented person doesn’t put others down. “Instead, Maya Angelou inspires delight as well as awe,” said Morrison. “Her reputation sparkles with elegance, generosity, humor…compassion, and dare I say it, wisdom.”
In her speech, Morrison said that when her son died one Christmas, the very first non-family voice that she heard on the phone was Maya. “With so much toxicity around in this world, the celebratory social life she offers her friends and colleagues is a blessing,” said Morrison. “And trust me, Maya can cook.”
After listing Angelou’s prolific list of accomplishments from journalist to playwright to screenwriter to author and beyond, Morisson said to her friend, “Dr. Maya Angelou, you improve our world by drawing from us, forcing from us, our better selves.”
Angelou took to the stage and responded, “It takes one to know one.”
She is a blessing,” Angelou said about Morrisson, thanking her “sister friend” of many years.
“God put a rainbow in the sky,” sang Angelou, referring to a passage in Genesis. “God put a rainbow in the clouds. You are rainbows in my clouds,” she said as she thanked the literary community for choosing her “whether she deserved it or not.”
“Easy reading is damn hard writing,” said Angelou. “I am trying to tell the truth, not everything I know, but the truth.”
“People live in direct relation to the sheros and heros they have and I thank you for honoring me,” she concluded.