The Shawn Carter Foundation and Robert Kraft’s Foundation to Combat Antisemitism Partner To Stop Nationwide Book Bans and Protect Educational Freedom
Both Organizations Team Up To Commit $1 Million To Advocate For Intellectual and Creative Liberties to Fight the Spread of All Hate
July 14, 2023 – Today, the Shawn Carter Foundation and Robert Kraft’s Foundation to Combat Antisemitism announced a partnership to preserve culture, expand diversity of thought, and protect the centers of knowledge and creativity in communities across the country in order to stop the spread of all hate and to ensure history does not repeat itself.
As part of the collaboration, both organizations teamed up to contribute $1 million to advocate for free speech and intellectual learning. Through the initiative, both entities will provide book donations, legal support, marketing assistance, publishing help and additional resources to protect creatives and institutions harmed by the nationwide book ban.
The partnership will also enable both parties to:
- Provide pro-bono services to educators and librarians who are being criminally prosecuted for advancing freedom of thought and learning.
- Give financial grants or in-kind book donations to libraries, schools, community centers, charitable organizations, and other places where communities gather (ex: laundromats, barber shops, hair and nail salons).
- Offer scholarships to writers and publishers from underrepresented backgrounds.
- Reprint and distribute banned books to educational institutions, libraries, and community centers.
- Facilitate opportunities for books to become movies, shows, audiobooks, plays, musicals, etc.
- Spearhead national public awareness campaigns and calls to action (out-of-home, digital, broadcast and print media).
- Organize meetings with elected officials.
- Publish op-eds and thought leadership pieces
- Donate books to prisons
The Shawn Carter Foundation and the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism will launch the new endeavor by supporting the work of Brooklyn Public Library’s Books Unbanned, a nationwide campaign to provide young people with free access to books without restrictions.
The collaborative effort comes 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.
Additionally, 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. Beginning in 1933, if books were written by anyone with Jewish heritage or if they were perceived to be aligned with communism or pacifism, they were banned and destroyed. Books about race, sexuality, and gender, as well as Christianity and the expression of new ideas were also part of the ban.
The goal was to control how Germans perceived their history, align all art and media with Nazi ideals, and control traditional gender roles in families. In addition, Nazi’s wanted to erase Jewish history and customs.
On May 10th, 1933, with 40,000 people in attendance, university students mobilized through the Nazi party to find and burn 25,000 books including the works of Franz Werfel, Max Brod, Stefan Zweig, Albert Einstein, and Helen Keller.
The horrific acts that followed began with the eradication of information from libraries and educational spaces.
The bans that exist in current day threaten democracy, discourage creative expression protected by the First Amendment and undermine education’s basic tenets – to empower students and individuals to think for themselves.
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.
Anisha Chakrabarti: [email protected]