The Shawn Carter Foundation & Robert Kraft’s Foundation to Combat Antisemitism Collaborate On Initial $2 Million Fund To Stop The Spread of Book Bans

Initiative to Launch with $1.5 Million Gift To Brooklyn Public Library To Support Its “Books Unbanned” Initiative & Bolster Library’s Overall Operations

(July 20, 2023) – Today, The Shawn Carter Foundation and Robert Kraft’s Foundation to Combat Antisemitism kicked off its initiative to stop the nationwide book ban and protect educational freedom by collaborating on an initial $2 million fund. The partnership was announced last week and aims to preserve culture, expand diversity of thought, and protect the centers of knowledge and creativity in communities across the country by joining forces to stop the spread of all hate and to ensure history does not repeat itself.

As part of the collaboration, Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) will receive $1.5 million to bolster the library’s overall operations and support its Books Unbanned initiative, a nationwide campaign dedicated to providing young people with free access to books without restrictions.

The donation will provide vital support to a wide range of BPL’s programs and collections, including teen and children’s programs, justice initiatives, small business and entrepreneurial support, bridging the digital divide, and efforts to combat censorship.

Beyond empowering the free exchange of ideas, the donation will also support the Brooklyn Public Library’s recent surge in attendance since The Book of HOV exhibit honoring Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter’s life and legacy opened on July 14 at the Central Branch. During the exhibit’s opening weekend, nearly 15,000 visitors came to the library, which was triple the number of visitors that it usually averaged.

In that span, more than 1,400 individuals signed up for BPL library cards at the Central and Marcy libraries. For comparison, it typically takes the Brooklyn Public Library a month to issue that amount but managed to achieve the feat in three days. Additionally, during that period, the number of checked-out items at Central and Marcy Libraries increased by nearly 10 percent from the previous weekend.

The Shawn Carter Foundation and Foundation to Combat Antisemitism originally announced plans to join forces to stop the nationwide book bans and protect educational freedom.

The partnership came about as a result of the alarming rise in hate crimes and bans on books that address issues of race, sexuality, gender and religion across the United States. In the 2021–2022 school year, 1,586 books were banned in schools across the United States and 22% of those books directly addressed issues of race and racism.

In 2022, the American Library Association documented 1,269 demands to censor library books and resources.  Most targeted books were for a teen audience and were by – or about – Black, LGBTQIA+ persons, women and religious minority groups.

Books that depict the atrocities of the Holocaust, such as Maus by Art Spiegelman and Diary of Anne Frank, have recently been banned for their teachings. In Missouri, school districts also banned Holocaust history books and books written by Jewish authors.

History has seen this behavior before. In Nazi Germany, in the 1930s and 1940s, books were banned from sale and were burned with celebration.

The horrific acts that followed began with the eradication of information from libraries and educational spaces.

The Shawn Carter Foundation and the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism are proud to stand together to ensure that history will not repeat itself and to continue to fight the spread of all hate.

Media Contact
Anisha Chakrabarti: [email protected]