This blog post is from the NBAF, a Unite Against Book Bans partner.
Since as far back as Reconstruction, Black writing in the United States has been widely treated as obscene, seditious, and even dangerous. The repression of Black authors has never really stopped; however, this campaign has roared back into life with a relentless recent effort to remove Black-authored books from our collective history.
More than 1,600 books were banned in 138 school districts across 32 states between 2021 and 2022, according to a report by PEN America. The American Library Association, which has been collecting censorship data for libraries for more than 20 years, tracked 1,269 attempts to ban library materials in 2022, nearly doubling the number of reports received in 2021. The vast majority of challenged and banned books feature BIPOC or LGBTQ+ characters, discuss gender, sexuality, and race in America, or are written by Black and POC authors. By celebrating these authors and activists’ works, we push back on the erasure of Black voices, histories, and perspectives in the formation of our national identity.
NBAF’s Black History Month program, Blacklisted! Banned Book Fair + Conference, will take place on Saturday and Sunday, February 24th & 25th, at The Loudermilk Conference Center in downtown Atlanta. Blacklisted! aims to honor the resilience of Black authors, amplify their voices, and combat the erasure of their contributions to literature and history. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required.
Attendees will have the opportunity to engage with celebrated authors, scholars, and activists, including Tayari Jones, Nic Stone, Dr. Akinyele Umoja, Gerald L. Coleman, Dr. Yaba Blay, Dr. Renée Alexander Craft, and Feminista Jones, among many other distinguished guests.
Through a variety of engaging activities such as panel discussions, book readings, film screenings, and interactive workshops, participants of all ages can delve into the narratives of renowned Black authors, exploring themes of resilience, identity, and social justice. The program is designed to generate dialogue, appreciation, and awareness for literature that has historically been silenced or suppressed.
Blacklisted! has programming for all ages including activities for youth and a community book drive to support youth-centered non-profits. Additionally, attendees can explore interactive exhibitions that shed light on banned African-American literature and authors. Local bookstores and vendors supporting independent Black authors will be present, offering access to banned books and merchandise.
This immersive event is presented in collaboration with the Morehouse College Movement Memory and Justice Project, South Fulton Arts, Unite Against Book Bans, the ACLU of Georgia, Women Engaged, 44th & 3rd Bookseller, Atlanta Writers Club, PEN America, and Black Writers Weekend.
Learn more about Blacklisted!, view the full schedule of events, and complete free registration here.