The National Book Awards were established in 1950 to celebrate the best writing in America. Since 1989, they have been overseen by the National Book Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of great writing in America.
“As the child of immigrants, as a black woman, as a Latina, as someone whose accented voice holds certain neighborhoods, whose body holds certain stories, I always feel like I have to prove that I am worthy enough and there will never be an award or accolade that will take that away,” Acevedo told the crowd as she accepted the country’s most prestigious literary award.
“But every single time I meet a reader who looks at me and says, ‘I have never seen my story until I read yours,’ I’m reminded of why this matters. And that’s not going to be an award and it’s not going to be an accolade. It’s going to be looking someone in the face and saying, ‘I see you,’ and in return being told that I am seen.”
View Elizabeth’s full acceptance speech here.