Groups increase efforts to resist book bans

Attendees from various states like Colorado, Michigan, New York, and Tennessee participated in the online “Troublemaker Training” on how to combat book bans in their communities. Over 70 individuals joined the session to learn effective talking points.

According to Julie Womack, the organizing director for Red, Wine & Blue, book banning continues to persist and spread, making it likely that it will happen in more school districts. Red, Wine & Blue is a grassroots group that mobilizes suburban women, particularly those leaning towards liberal views, to resist book bans and restrictions. Several national and local organizations have also initiated projects against book bans, especially those targeting books written by authors of color and addressing themes of racism, gender identity, and sexuality.

These concerned parents, civil rights activists, and teacher advocates have taken various actions in response to book bans. They have established bookmobiles to offer banned books, created toolkits for activists, organized online book clubs, and arranged banned book giveaways. Additionally, Rep. Ayanna Pressley introduced legislation to counter these bans.

The rise of book bans has prompted many states and local jurisdictions, including school boards, to adopt measures that restrict the books teachers can use and librarians can include on their shelves.

Book ban supporters argue that these efforts help protect individuals, especially young readers, from harmful content, and that parents should have more say in their children’s education. However, opponents view these bans as part of a larger culture war that demands action.

According to Deborah Menkart, the executive director of Teaching for Change, book bans represent only a small part of a broader issue of censorship and the restriction of information.

‘Ready and organized to fight back’

During the training session, organizers like Julie Womack provided tips on how to counter book bans effectively. These tips included encouraging participation in school board meetings, using personal stories and statistics, and highlighting the names of banned books, including those about civil rights icons like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr.

The organization also hosts other events, such as salons where speakers, sometimes authors, discuss book bans. They also hold an online book club every first Wednesday of the month to discuss a banned book. In December, the book under discussion was “1619 Project: Born on the Water” by Nikole Hannah-Jones and RenĂ©e Watson. Red, Wine & Blue initiated its “Book Ban Busters” campaign in February 2022 to address the increasing number of book bans.

Other national groups have also joined together to combat book bans. For instance, the National Urban League is part of a coalition that encourages local activists and parents to resist book bans. Marc Morial, president of the civil rights organization, emphasized the importance of book bans in the larger fight for Black history and cultural preservation during an awards dinner in Washington, D.C.

Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, spoke at an awards dinner Dec. 12 hosted by the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation in Washington, D.C. He urged attendees to put banned books under the Christmas tree.

Efforts to ban books on the rise

In addition to the annual “B