Dorothy L. Guthrie, 2021 recipient of the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement

For Immediate Release
Mon, 01/25/2021


Communications and Marketing Office

ALA Media Relations


CHICAGO – Dorothy L. Guthrie, is the recipient of the 2021 Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement. The announcement was made today by the American Library Association (ALA), during the ALA Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits, held virtually Jan. 22 – 26.

“Dorothy Guthrie’s enthusiasm and creativity for connecting her community with African American books is uniquely inspiring.  Through exemplary programs she elevates awareness of diverse literature,” said Award Committee Chair Ida W. Thompson.

Dorothy L. Guthrie is an award-winning retired librarian, district administrator, author, and school board member. A respected children’s literature advocate, Guthrie promotes and affirms the rich perspectives of African Americans. She infuses Coretta Scott King Award-winning books into programs that engage libraries, schools, and communities. Her work, “Integrating African American Literature in the Library and Classroom,” inspires educators with African American literature. Guthrie founded the first African American museum in her home, Gaston County, NC.

The Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement is named in memory of beloved children’s author Virginia Hamilton. The annual award is presented in odd years (i.e. 2013, 2015, 2017…), to a practitioner for substantial contributions through active engagement with youth using award winning African American literature for children and/or young adults, via implementation of reading and reading related activities/programs. The recipient may be a public librarian, academic librarian, school librarian (public or private), an educator (pre-K - 12 or any level therein, or higher education) or youth literature advocate whose vocation, work, volunteer service or ongoing promotion of books with and/or on behalf of youth is significant and sustained. 

In even years (i.e. 2017, 2018, 2020…), the award is presented to an African American author, illustrator or author/illustrator for a body of his or her published books for children and/or young adults and who has made a significant and lasting literary contribution.

Virginia Hamilton was an award-winning author of children's books. She wrote more than 35 books throughout her career, including “M. C. Higgins, the Great,” for which she won the 1975 Newbery Medal.  During her lifetime, Hamilton received numerous awards including the Coretta Scott King Book Award, the Edgar Allan Poe Award, the Atlanta Globe-Horn Book Award and the Hans Christian Andersen Award.

Members of the 2021 Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement Award Committee are: Chair Ida W. Thompson, Literacy for LifeSC, Columbia, South Carolina; Carolyn L. Garnes, library consultant; Chrystal Carr Jeter, Willoughby - Eastlake Public Library, Willoughby Hills, Ohio; Marguerite Worth Penick, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Oshkosh, Wisconsin; and Laura Simeon, Kirkus Reviews, Redmond, Washington.

The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, ALA has been the trusted voice of libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit

For more information on the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement Award and other ALA Youth Media Awards, please visit