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American Federation Of Teachers Co-Lead A Coalition To Stop White Supremacist Crusade To Ban Books From Libraries

Published Sunday, May 22, 2022
by Mark Gruenberg/People’s World
American Federation Of Teachers Co-Lead A Coalition To Stop White Supremacist Crusade To Ban Books From Libraries

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - It’s not quite the book burning, yet, of Nazi Germany before World War II, but white supremacists are on a crusade to ban books from libraries and schools around the U.S. and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) are co-leading a coalition to stop them.

The Right’s book censorship campaign, one of numerous suppression drives it has launched, prompted AFT and the American Libraries Association to create the Unite Against Book Bans Coalition (

Another 24 groups have joined them, so far - including major publishers and the Human Rights Campaign Fund.

Quite bluntly, AFT President Randi Weingarten says the Coalition, unveiled on May 11th, fights to stop censorship that forced school districts serving more than two million students nationwide to ban 1,145 books from school library shelves since last July 1st.

The Libraries Group documented another 729 cases of Rightist attempts to ban a total of 1,597 titles from public library shelves.

It’s no surprise what the Rightists and white supremacists want to ban, says Weingarten: “Titles with racial and LGBTQ themes, cruelly erasing young readers’ lived experience.”

The Right also targets titles that discuss all of U.S. History, including its flaws.

One flaw, an Internet search shows, was from the U.S. State Department during the McCarthy-era Red Scare that had overseas U.S. Embassy and Cultural Libraries burn books discussing Communism, the New Republic reported - in 1953.

Now, a report in April by PEN America, a First Amendment-oriented Literacy Group, listed top titles Rightists’ censorship targeted.

The top three dealt with gay rights and gay marriage.

Others included the book spinoff from The New York Times’ 1619 Project and books about Black Lives Matter.

A 16-page list of books being banned from Texas schools includes a biography of murdered gay San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk and Wait, what? - A comic book guide to relationships, bodies and growing up.

“While it’s uncomfortable to talk about tough issues like genocide, slavery and racism, reading honest history helps kids learn the good and the bad about our country and emerge as well-informed, engaged citizens of the world,” Weingarten said at the Coalition’s start.

Reading also helps Teachers teach kids to think and question too.

While Weingarten didn’t say so, Christian Fundamentalists have fought the right to think for over a century.

One well-known example: Tennessee’s John Scopes “Monkey Trial” anti-evolution case of 1925.

The Volunteer State outlawed teaching of Darwin’s theory of evolution and ordered teaching only the Biblical story of creation.

Reading widely “helps us dream, helps us create, and helps us access opportunity,” Weingarten said. “Whether you’re a kid in rural West Virginia, in the suburbs of Texas or in a shelter in New York City, opening a book means you’re opening the world.  But reading is hard without books.”

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