WASHINGTON, April. 27, 2021—The American Immigration Council will honor Haitian-American novelist and essayist Edwidge Danticat with its American Heritage Award, which recognizes the talents, contributions, and accomplishments of immigrants and their advocates.
Danticat is an author, creator, and participant in multiple forms of storytelling, including novels, short stories, essays, children’s literature, and filmmaking. Her work frequently examines the theme of national identity, self-identity, self-expression, race, gender violence, and trauma.
“Edwidge Danticat has dedicated herself to highlighting the lives and challenges facing communities of color, including immigrants in America. Her prose brings to life the struggles, dreams, and resiliency of those who live their lives with dignity, hope and faith,” said Wendy Feliz, founding director of the Center for Inclusion and Belonging at the American Immigration Council. “This year we are thrilled to honor Edwidge Danticat for her storytelling gift and for capturing the common threads of understanding and connection that unite us all.”
The award will be presented at the American Heritage Awards on May 6 during a free, virtual celebration that will highlight the importance of storytelling and its power to inspire change. The gathering will bring to life the nationwide “Belonging Begins With Us” campaign and guests will be treated to a program that features a variety of storytelling styles.
“I am very grateful to be receiving this award from the American Immigration Council, though it feels bittersweet at a time when so many Haitian families, including babies, are being deported at record numbers to Haiti and when many other families here are waiting to see whether the Biden administration will redesignate Temporary Protected Status for their loved ones who are already here. I see so much of their stories in mine and I hope that the glimmer of hope offered by the American Immgration Council’s celebration of immigrants will show what is possible when we—immigrants—are given the opportunity to fufill our potential,” said Edwidge Danticat, Haitian-American novelist and essayist.
Danticat is the author of several books, including “Breath, Eyes, Memory,” an Oprah Book Club selection, “Krik? Krak!,” a National Book Award finalist, “The Farming of Bones,” an American Book Award winner, and “Everything Inside,” a National Book Critics Circle Fiction Award winner. She is also the editor of “The Butterfly’s Way: Voices from the Haitian Dyaspora in the United States,” “Haiti Noir,” and “Haiti Noir 2.”
She has written seven books for children and young adults, “Anacaona,” “Behind the Mountains,” “Eight Days: A Story of Haiti,” “The Last Mapou,” “Mama’s Nightingale,” “Untwine,” “My Mommy Medicine,” as well as a travel narrative, “After the Dance.” Her memoir, “Brother, I’m Dying,” which recounts her uncle’s migration to the United States and death in an immigration detention facility, was a 2007 finalist for the National Book Award and a 2008 winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography.
Danticat is a graduate of Barnard College and Brown University. She is a 2009 McArthur Fellow and a 2020 Winner of the Vilckek Prize.
In years past, the American Immigration Council has recognized the achievements of other outstanding immigrants and their advocates, including Carlos Santana, General Colin Powell, Sonia Nazario, and Gerda Weissman Klein.
The American Immigration Council works to strengthen America by shaping how America thinks about and acts towards immigrants and immigration and by working toward a more fair and just immigration system that opens its doors to those in need of protection and unleashes the energy and skills that immigrants bring. The Council brings together problem solvers and employs four coordinated approaches to advance change—litigation, research, legislative and administrative advocacy, and communications. Follow the latest Council news and information ImmigrationImpact.com and on Twitter @immcouncil.