That’s what hundreds of advocates from around the country cheered together at the Rally for the Right to Read in Chicago – the largest Unite Against Book Bans gathering to date. Tracie Hall, Executive Director of the American Library Association and one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2023, got the room energized and focused on standing up against book bans, leading the crowd of hundreds in a rallying cry to defend the freedom to read!
Library leaders, student advocates, and celebrated authors all joined together under the same mission: it’s time to Unite Against Book Bans. This incredible event kicked off the American Library Association’s annual conference, but the Rally for the Right to Read was for everyone impacted by book bans: library workers, authors, students, readers of all ages, and more.
Dr. Ibram X. Kendi delivered rousing remarks as the event’s headliner, telling the crowd, “If you’re fighting book bans, if you’re fighting against censorship, then you are a freedom fighter!” The New York Times bestselling author and longtime champion for the right to read shared what he’s learned as a writer whose books are frequently challenged and banned, reminding the advocates in the room and all of us that we are on the right side of history.
Champions from across the country were honored for their important work standing up to book bans in their own communities, including Louisiana school librarian Amanda Jones, who became the target of harassment by conservative activist groups and fought back in the courts; the Michigan Library Association for their MI Right to Read initiative that has activated and provided resources for thousands of library workers and concerned citizens across the state; and several others. From students fighting to bring books back to their public libraries to school librarians who just want to serve their students, this event united fierce defenders of the right to read.
Along with awards, attendees were also able to hear from library workers and parents who are working hard to provide reading materials for everyone in their community. Facing significant numbers of materials challenges, freedom to read advocates like Becky Calzada in of the grassroots #FReadom initiative in Texas have worked tirelessly to continue to provide for their students, patrons, and community members.
Unite Against Book Bans is incredibly grateful to the dozens of partners that helped organize this event. Learn more about our organizational partners here!