Black Caucus of the ALA statement on “The Speaker” sponsorship

Censorship, Intellectual Freedom Committee, Midwinter Meeting/Annual Conference, Office for Intellectual Freedom

In response to several requests to elaborate on the Black Caucus of the ALA’s (BCALA) decision to cosponsor the upcoming ALA Conference program, “Speaking about the Speaker,” BCALA president Jerome Offord, Jr. wrote an open letter to the library community detailing the organization’s reasoning.  Here’s a key excerpt from the letter:

“As our governance structure permits, a proposal was submitted to the Executive Board requesting that BCALA collaborate on this project. The conversation began with those members who were present during the first iteration of this issue. The Executive Board debated the pros and the cons, talked about the historical decision regarding this film in the past, and questioned why we should collaborate in this venture. One member clearly reflected that this film, and the possible showing of it in the past, sent a blowing ripple through ALA at the time. In order to truly understand the history behind this, you must remember, this was in 1977. Times have changed and the BCALA Executive Board felt it was time for us to discuss this political hot button.”

You can read the full letter here: TheSpeaker_PR_BCALA.  Our thanks to BCALA for their support of this program!

One thought on “Black Caucus of the ALA statement on “The Speaker” sponsorship

  • As a child of holocaust survivors I grew up in a world that was laden with emotional “landmines.” To my everlasting benefit my parents brought me up to deal with issues head-on, to talk about the troublesome issues fraught with prejudice and hate. I was encouraged not to bury my head and avoid difficult emotions. I grew up with the notion that to talk about issues was the best way to diffuse them. Talking about holocaust and antisemitism helped me to better know myself and to develop a modest appreciation of what my parents experienced. Most importantly facing the issues helped shape me as someone who is ready, willing and able to stand up against prejudice and hate. It seems to me, as we approach Banned Books Week we should be defending the presentation of controversial ideas and not cowering under the illusion that avoiding a dialog about hateful ideas will somehow magically eradicate them.

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