Late first lady’s foundation set to honor group run by self-declared ‘Marxist’

The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy announced it will be giving an award to the American Library Association (ALA), an organization that has come under fire in recent months after its president declared herself a “Marxist” after being elected to serve in her role.

The ALA will be one of two recipients of the “2023 Barbara Bush National Literacy Honors Award” during the foundation’s signature event, the National Celebration of Reading, set to be held in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Oct. 11, according to a release by the foundation.

The ALA’s award comes despite the organization receiving backlash in recent months for comments made by ALA President Emily Drabinski, who took to social media shortly after being elected to the role and declared herself a “Marxist lesbian.”


Barbara Bush and Emily Drabinski

The Barbara Bush Foundation has been criticized for preparing to award an organization led by an avowed Marxist. (BarbarBush photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP via Getty Images, Emily Drabinski image is a screenshot via YouTube)

“I just cannot believe that a Marxist lesbian who believes that collective power is possible to build and can be wielded for a better world is the president-elect of @ALALibrary,” Drabinski wrote in the post, which has since been deleted. “I am so excited for what we will do together. Solidarity! And my mom is SO PROUD. I love you mom.”

The organization itself has also come under fire, including after reports earlier this year that the ALA was promoting “intersectionality” and various LGBT stories and authors that specifically targeted children and young adults at their Annual Conference and Exhibition in June.

Drabinksi’s comments and the ALA’s policies under her leadership have sparked a movement in several states, including Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, South Carolina and Wyoming, to cut ties with the ALA. Such efforts were successful in both Texas and Montana, with the library commissions from both states voting earlier this year to end their association with the ALA.


Portrait of Bush Family

Portrait of Bush family in the Red Room of the White House Jan. 6, 2005 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Eric Draper/White House via Getty Images)

“Texas should be leading the fight against dangerous Marxist ideology – not subsidizing it with my constituents’ hard earned tax dollars. I’ll continue fighting to protect Texans from having their money weaponized against them, their values, and their children.” Texas State Rep. Brian Harrison, who helped lead the charge in Texas, said of the move.

Meanwhile, the Montana State Library Commission released a statement arguing that their “duty to the Constitution forbids association with an organization led by a Marxist.”

Marxism is a political philosophy that originated with German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, who started the movement that led to the rise of communist states throughout the world. The movement has long been controversial and unpopular in the United States, with the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation estimating the ideology has led to the deaths of over 100 million people.


The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy event, which promises to bring “together members of the Bush family, bestselling authors and entertainers, and special guests to advance the mission” of the organization, said the National Literacy Honors award is meant to honor “honor leaders at the both the national and grassroots levels who have made significant contributions toward a more literate America.” In addition to the ALA, social media influencer Oliver James is set to receive the same award at the event.

President George H W Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush

View of first lady Barbara Bush and President George H.W. Bush during the National Medal of Arts ceremony in the White Houses East Room. (Photo by Ron Sachs/CNP/Getty Images)

“What Barbara Bush knew more than three decades ago is still true today: literacy changes lives,” Andrew Roberts, the interim president and CEO of the organization, said in the release. “The National Celebration of Reading is the perfect opportunity to honor her legacy, celebrate the transformative power of reading and carry on the work that she began to build a stronger, more equitable America through literacy.”


In an email to Fox News Digital, Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy Vice President of Communications Lauren Sproull said that the award is given “to recognize outstanding achievements and contributions toward the Foundation’s vision of an America in which everyone has the opportunity to read, write, and comprehend in order to navigate the world with dignity.”

“The award will be presented to ALA at the organizational level—not to any individual—and should not be interpreted as endorsement of any individual’s personal or political views,” said Sproull, who further noted that ALA’s interim associate executive director, Alan Inouye, “will accept the award on behalf of the organization and its staff.”

Reached for comment by Fox News Digital, an ALA spokesperson said that the organization is “grateful to the Barbara Bush Foundation for recognizing ALA’s unwavering commitment” to “provide leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all,” but stressed that the ALA is a “non-partisan, non-profit organization.”

“While we respect the rights of individuals to exercise their freedom of thought and expression, ALA does not align with, endorse, or promote the political beliefs, values, or ideologies of any one individual—including its elected leaders,” the spokesperson said.

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