Filmmaker Spike Lee attends a ceremony to posthumously award the Congressional Gold Medal to the four young girls who were killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing at the U.S. Captiol September 10, 2013 in Washington, DC.

Filmmaker Spike Lee attends a ceremony to posthumously award the Congressional Gold Medal to the four young girls who were killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing at the U.S. Captiol September 10, 2013 in Washington, DC.

*Director Spike Lee just pocketed a $300,000 reward as the 2013 winner of the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, given annually to “a man or woman who has made an outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind’s enjoyment and understanding of life.”

Lee, who was chosen for his “brilliance and unwavering courage in using film to challenge conventional thinking,” told the Associated Press, “I hadn’t even heard of it.”

“It was a phone call that came completely out of the blue,” he said. “It was one of the best phone calls I’ve ever had.”

Lee, who follows in the footsteps of previous winners Bob Dylan and Arthur Miller, will be presented with the accolade at a ceremony at New York’s Museum of Modern Art on Oct. 30