“Moments like these are not intended to shine a spotlight on one individual but rather to hold up a mirror that reflects all of the people and places that have contributed to what an individual has become. Tonight is a reflection of two groups of people that have lit a lifelong fire within me—people who read and people who fight for the right to read.”
American Library Association (ALA) Executive Director Tracie D. Hall was honored with the National Book Foundation’s 2022 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community on November 16 at a ceremony in New York City, and her acceptance speech was spectacular.
Following an introduction by professor and author Ibram X. Kendi, Hall thanked family, colleagues, librarians, fellow readers, and more for inspiring her love of reading and setting her on the path of lifelong learning. She also recognized those whose work helps instill a love of reading and literacy in others, as well as those yearning to read.
“This award goes out to our grandmothers and grandfathers, our neighbors and our friends, and all adults who long to read and to discover the freedom that comes from navigating the world as a reader,” she said.
Significantly, Hall dedicated her award to the countless readers, teachers, librarians, and ALA staff who work daily to protect the freedom to read for everyone.
“Let history show of this period that librarians and the writers whose work they protect from being removed or erased were on the frontlines in upholding our democracy,” Hall said.
Watch Hall’s inspiring speech in its entirety:
Photo: National Book Foundation