WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) reintroduced a Resolution recognizing Banned Books Week and condemning the escalating attacks on books and freedom of expression in the United States. The Resolution, which comes amid a disturbing rise in book bans, focuses on the central role books play in democratic life and civil discourse and urges Congress to denounce the illegitimate censorship of books in K-12 classrooms, universities, prisons, and libraries.
“The escalating crisis of book bans across our country in recent years is a direct attack on First Amendment rights and should concern everyone who believes freedom of expression and the freedom to read are essential for a strong democracy,” said Rep. Raskin. “The sinister efforts to remove books from our schools and libraries are a hallmark of authoritarian regimes. My Democratic colleagues and I will continue fighting back against these threats to our First Amendment rights. Thank you to Senator Schatz for working with me to introduce this resolution, and thank you to all the freedom of speech champions who are fighting to protect our books and the freedom to think.”
“The growing movement to ban books is eroding America’s proud history of celebrating – and defending – free expression as the hallmark of our democracy,” said Nadine Farid Johnson, managing director of PEN America Washington and Free Expression Programs. “Restrictions on the freedom to read and learn are turning our nation’s public schools into political battlegrounds, creating environments that make it impossible for our students to flourish and our educators to do their jobs. We applaud Representative Raskin, Senator Schatz, and the cosponsors for spearheading these timely resolutions, which highlight the troubling rise in educational censorship and reaffirm the importance of protecting Americans’ First Amendment rights.”
“Across America, most of us want the same thing – strong public schools where all students, no matter their race, ZIP code, or background, have the resources and opportunities to grow into their full brilliance. But sadly, in some communities politicians are ignoring the vast majority of parents by banning books about Martin Luther King Jr., Anne Frank, Billie Jean King, and Roberto Clemente. By taking books off the shelves of classrooms and school libraries, politicians are taking away students’ freedom to learn about themselves, their communities, and our nation’s history. On behalf of America’s educators, the National Education Association applauds Sen. Brian Schatz and Rep. Jamie Raskin for their efforts to condemn book banning by recognizing Banned Books Week,” said National Education Association President Becky Pringle.
“Our nation’s public schools and libraries provide the building blocks for an inclusive, participatory democracy. But a coordinated national censorship campaign led by Christian nationalists and their allies is eliminating diverse perspectives and creating a hostile school environment, especially for minority youth,” said The Rev. Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, president and CEO of Interfaith Alliance. “Our first freedoms, from religious freedom to free expression, are inextricably linked. It's not lost on me the disproportionate number of Jewish, Muslim, and other minority faith authors that have been targeted by these bans. As a person of deep religious conviction, I reject the misuse of faith as a tool to discriminate and censor, and urge people of all beliefs to call upon the moral mandates of their own traditions and mobilize to reject book bans wherever they may occur.”
“Limiting student access to books infringes on a well-rounded education and connecting to the expansiveness of humanity. This resolution identifies the heightened attacks to intellectual freedom and raises the need to protect access to the benefits of teacher and librarian expertise and, ultimately, a society filled with possibilities rather than fears,” said Emily Kirkpatrick, Executive Director, National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).
“This is about much more than banning books. It’s about trying to erase our history, our lives, our stories and our contributions,” said Kierra Johnson, Executive Director, National LGBT Task Force Action Fund. “LGBTQ people, people of color, women and other marginalized communities cannot and will not ever be erased, no matter how many books you ban or burn – we will fight and resist anyone who thinks we can be so easily removed from libraries, classrooms and bookshelves. Censorship has no place in our democracy and we applaud the elected officials who are standing with us against this wave of censorship and attempted erasure.”
“EveryLibrary is proud to support this resolution. We know that access to a broad selection of books and information help children learn empathy and respect for all Americans. We know that children who have read a broad range of literature are more likely to achieve more as they get older. The book banning movement is also costing taxpayers millions of dollars per year in a multitude of states. This money could be better served educating students and ensuring that they have the resources they need to be successful in life. This resolution will show our commitment to the future success of our country,” said John Chrastka, Executive Director, EveryLibrary.
“The rise in attempts to pull books from library shelves is more than concerning—it is an assault on Americans’ constitutional rights to free speech and is harmful to democracy,” said Brooks Rainwater, President and CEO of the Urban Libraries Council.?“Libraries are the cornerstones of communities all across the country, and now more than ever the librarians who work there have become guardians of American democracy and defenders of the Constitution.”
“The vast majority of parents are fed up with the extremist minority banning books and causing chaos in our schools. We need to be preparing our kids for the 2050s, not dragging them back to the 1950s,” said Katie Paris, founder, Red Wine & Blue Education Fund.
“Make no mistake: book bans are both a harbinger and a symptom of rising anti-democratic extremism. By taking a page directly from that authoritarian playbook, the extremists behind these bans leverage fear to deprive students – and society more broadly – of an understanding of our past, so that we can't build a better future,” said Amy Spitalnick, CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. “The Jewish community knows precisely where this extremism can lead – and we have no choice but to call it out for what it is and fight back.”
“Book bans have reached an all-time high and are disproportionately targeting diverse writers and illustrators, many of whom We Need Diverse Books has supported via our mentorships, workshops, and grants,” said Ellen Oh, Author and CEO and Founding Member of We Need Diverse Books. “This incessant attack on diverse books is not only un-American, it's harming young readers nationwide. We must all take a stand to defend the freedom to read and the freedom of expression.”
The Banned Books Resolution has the support of 40 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives and 15 co-sponsors in the Senate. The Resolution has been endorsed by American Library Association (ALA), Baltimore Jewish Council, Banned Books Week Coalition, Center for American Progress, EveryLibrary, Honesty for Ohio Education, Interfaith Alliance, JCRC of Greater Washington, Jewish Community Federation of Mohawk Valley, Jewish Community Relations Council Bay Area, Jewish Community Relations Council for Tucson & Southern Arizona, Jewish Community Relations Council of Broward County, Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Phoenix, Jewish Community Relations Council of Portland, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester, National Book Foundation, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Council of Teachers of English, National Education Association, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, PEN America, PFLAG National, Red Wine and Blue Education Fund, The Sikh Coalition, Tucson Jewish Museum & Holocaust Center, Urban Libraries Council (ULC), and We Need Diverse Books.
The full resolution is available here.