This article was written as a look ahead for Banned Books Week at Salve Regina University. It was published for The Mosaic.
The Salve Regina community will explore the theme of diversity for this year’s Banned Books Week beginning September 26th. This event series, sponsored by the American Library Association, will inspire discussions about diversity and censorship. Students will be made aware of books that have been banned because the author is of a certain race, sexuality, or writes of things deemed offensive.
Events will begin on Monday, September 26th with “Blind Date with a Banned Book” in Miley Lobby from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. There will be a table set up with banned books. The titles will be covered so the only information presented will be the reason it was banned. Students are invited to come pick out a book to read.
On Wednesday, September 28th, students and faculty will read passages from banned books on the McKillop Lawn as part of the “Read-Out” from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. There will also be performers singing and dancing.
To wrap things up, on Thursday, September 29th, there will be a screening of The Color Purple in DiStefano Lecture Hall beginning at 7:00 p.m. This film is adapted from a novel of the same name by Alice Walker. There will be a caramel apple station set up as well.
Dawn Emsellem, Director of Library Services, has been working with Special Programs Librarian Kiki Butler, along with Dr. Harrington-Lueker, and students Patty Socarras and Marrissa Ballard since last semester to make this event happen.
Emsellem is very passionate about this project and believes it is an important one to have college students participate in as they prepare to go out into the world. “This needs to happen in a place where a diversity of voices and opinions in celebrated, and literature is a way to see different ways of being and discover who you are,” says Emsellem. “Personally, I feel that empathy and the impulse to understand the lives of others is something that is sorely needed right now.”
Marrissa Ballard, co-chair of the planning committee, also believes this is an important event. Ballard emphasizes that the planning committee’s main focus was always how to be faithful to the theme of diversity. “In the name of diversity, we tried to be as inclusive as possible of all different populations.”
Ballard notes that many classics have been banned. “A lot of books that people read in school have been banned at one time.” Even children’s books have been banned; one in particular, And Tango Makes Three, has been banned for featuring a relationship between two male penguins.
Banned Books Week began in 2014 as a celebration of our freedom to read. Come participate in these events to learn more about these banned books and explore new ideas.