Lee was selected for his 'unyielding commitment to telling stories that challenge America's consciousness of social injustice, while also celebrating the resilience and power of the human spirit.'
The symposium, named after the late, four-time Academy Award-winner Charles Guggenheim, honours a film-maker who has mastered the power of the documentary to capture current events, frame history and who inspires audiences with powerful explorations of the complexity of the human experience.
'Spike Lee truly is truly a master storyteller,' AFI president and CEO Bob Gazzale said. 'In both his contemporary and historical films, he uncovers the deep truths and unhealed wounds of the American experience while celebrating our resilience and passion.'
Lee's most recent documentary was the post-Katrina film When The Levees Broke: A Requiem In Four Acts and his non-fiction credits include 4 Little Girls, A Huey P Newton Story and We Wuz Robbed.