In a ceremony held last week at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, Lee got the honor as well as word that the Chrysler Foundation also plans to donate $25,000 in Lee’s name to his alma mater, Morehouse College, located in Atlanta. The money donated will go towards Morehouse College School of Sports Journalism. This program was created to help expand the career of sports journalism for African-American students.
Lee has donated money to the school often -- a total of more than $1 million.
Frank Fountain, Chrysler Foundation Senior Vice President, said that Lee’s “thoughtful films and activism in Hollywood have inspired a generation of filmmakers, encouraged actors, challenged basic assumptions and expanded the field to include many more African-Americans in key roles behind the lens. We are thrilled to have him as the award's latest honoree and to celebrate his commitment and passion."
Known for his works spanning from “Jungle Fever,” “Malcolm X,” “Do The Right Thing” and his miniseries “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts,” Lee is seen as one of the most influential figures in modern day cinema, Chrysler says. He is also known for boosting the careers of such names as Samuel L. Jackson, Halle Berry, and Denzel Washington.
Lee accepted his award (and surprisingly showed a seven-minute clip if his upcoming film “Miracle at St. Anna”) and in his speech he thanked his “family members, friends, mentors and collaborators without whom this recognition would not have been possible.”
Lee has been preceded in the award by directors Gordon Parks, Melvin Van, John Singleton and Reuben Cannon.