The open letter has been signed by hundreds of artists and calls for a halt to book banning and artistic censorship.
With the start of another school year and National Banned Book Week set for the first week of October, literacy champion LeVar Burton is leading the charge against the growing to call to ban books from the country’s schools.
The enduring public figure and host of the iconic Reading Rainbow series has teamed with MoveOn for a campaign to create discourse and awareness of the dangers of censorship when it comes to banning books in an academic setting.
As heighten divisiveness continues to permeate the social climate of the United States, books, have become a hot-button issue and the catalyst for discussion involving censorship and ultimately, political ideology.
For Burton who also served as the executive producer for the documentary The Right to Read, the initiative to halt the banning of books is a highly personal priority. “It’s embarrassing that we are banning books in this country, in this culture, in this day and age. And it’s dangerous that a handful of individuals are deciding that any book with Black and queer people is divisive.”
The effort has resonated with a strong community of passionate creatives that all echo the same sentiment. From the world of heavy music and art, Converge, Trivium, Knocked Loose, Cave In, Greyhaven, Dying Wish, The Callous Daoboys, Stick To Your Guns, Stray From The Path, Escuela Grind, Chelsea Wolfe and many more have added their names to an open letter admonishing the practice of egregious censorship and book banning.
Burton continued, “I’m proud to be surrounded by hundreds of artists and millions of MoveOn members who are solidly against this type of censorship. We are calling on everyone to join us in raising their voices to uphold artistic freedom, embrace multicultural history, and put a stop once and for all to book bans.”
Among the artists that have added the name to the cause, Emma Boster of Dying Wish explained their stance. “Rock, metal and punk music sadly has a long history of censorship attempts, from songs being banned from the airwaves to the Parents Music Resource Center’s puritanical culture war. Regressive politicians and government figures are continuing their misguided attempts to curtail access to works by artists and creatives they deem offensive through book bans.”
Katerina Economou of modern grind unity Escuela Grind articulated the band’s emphasis on defending creative freedom. “We signed this open letter along with many other artists because it’s our duty to protect art and make it accessible to young people. Books were very important in my childhood and many of the so-called “banned books” were influential in my life as a young person finding their creativity.”
Amber Christman of The Callous Daoboys spoke of the dangerous precedent book banning presents. “Banning literature represents a major risk to our society in the form of censorship, as the entity that chooses to ban books will more than likely serve the interests of an establishment that has proven itself to be imperialist, conservative and regressive time and time again over the course of history.”
Christman continued, “The common person should have the right to review ALL sources of media and make their own educated decisions so that we can press forward into a brighter future, instead of being pulled backwards into the past. Books can depict a number of controversial topics, but it’s at the discretion of the reader (and in the case of a child, their family) to determine whether something can be gleaned from a text, whether it be a lesson, or a better understanding of the contexts within which evil acts can occur.“
A full list of the nearly 200 artists and creatives that have signed the open letter can be found at ArtistsAgainstBookBans.com