Justice Clarence Thomas, Henry A. Kissinger, Maya Angelou and developer James W. Rouse are among the 10 winners of the 1992 Horatio Alger Awards.
"This year's winners have overcome tremendous adversity, providing living proof that our free-enterprise system still offers opportunity to all," said James R. Moffett, a former award winner who will chair the awards dinner in Washington on May 1.
The non-profit Horatio Alger Association was established to motivate young people to strive against adversity.
Kissinger, who fled Nazi Germany with his family at the age of 15, put himself through night school at the City College of New York by working in a shaving-brush factory during the day.
Maya Angelou, the author who played Kunta Kinte's grandmother in the television series "Roots," is the Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University.
At the age of 7, she lost the power of speech and was unable to talk for several years. After overcoming this disability, she completed high school at 15.
The other recipients of Alger awards will be John R. Block, the president of the National-American Wholesale Grocers' Association and a former Secretary of Agriculture; Jack H. Brown, the chairman of Stater Brothers Markets, the largest contributor of food to the homeless in San Bernardino and Riverside counties in California; Thomas L. Harken, the founder of Casa Ole and Crazy Jose's Patio and Cafe Restaurants in Beaumont, Texas; Rouse, founder of the Enterprise Foundation in Columbia, Md.; H. Wayne Huizenga, the chairman of Blockbuster Video and a founder of Waste Management Inc. in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Dr. John Silber, the president of Boston University, and Richard L. Knowlton, chairman of George A. Hormel & Co., the meat producers.