September 27, 2021

This is “Banned Books Week” in America.

It’s described as the “annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.”

Appearing on CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones talked about her “1619 Project” for The New York Times Magazine.

“This is a particularly dangerous moment,’’ Hannah-Jones told host Brian Stelter. “It’s one thing to have right-wing media saying they don’t like the ‘1619 Project,’ they don’t agree with the ‘1619 Project.’ But it’s quite something else to have politicians from state legislatures down to school boards actually making prohibitions against teaching a work of American journalism or really any of these other texts. The fact that we are all talking about this fake controversy called ‘critical race theory’ really speaks to how successful the public propaganda campaign has been. I don’t think it’s just about scared white parents. It’s about politicians savvily stoking racial resentment in response, I think, to the global protests last year in order to divide America from each other, and they’re being quite successful.”

Hannah-Jones said it isn’t just the “1619 Project” that is being targeted.

“This is actually trying to control the collective memory of this country,” Hannah-Jones said. “And trying to say we just want to purge uncomfortable truths from our collective memory. And that’s very dangerous.”

This article originally appeared in Covering COVID-19, a daily Poynter briefing of story ideas about the coronavirus and other timely topics for journalists. Sign up here to have it delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.

Support high-integrity, independent journalism that serves democracy. Make a gift to Poynter today. The Poynter Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and your gift helps us make good journalism better.
Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
Tom Jones

More News

Back to News