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The American pop singer Pink is to give away 2000 copies of books that have been banned in the state of Florida. The titles include Tony Morrison’s acclaimed Beloved and Amanda Gorman’s The Hill We Climb, the poem she recited at President Gorman’s inauguration.
The banned books giveaway will take place at Pink’s concerts in Miami and Sunrise, Florida, and has been organised alongside the freedom of expression body PEN America which has recorded 3,362 book bans in US public schools in the 2022-23 school year, involving 1,557 unique titles. Of those, more than 40% – or 1,406 book ban cases – occurred in Florida school districts. Under Republican governor Ron DeSantis, Florida has become a hotbed of challenges to free speech.
Pink says: “I can’t imagine my own parents telling me what my kids can and cannot read, let alone someone else’s parents, let alone someone else that doesn’t even have children that are deciding what my children can read.”
In February 2022 PEN America announced the Dohle Book Defence Fund, established in partnership with former Penguin Random House Markus Dohle to mark PEN America’s centenary, its aim being “to combat, in real-time, the rising threats to freedom of speech and open discourse within communities nationwide”
Dohle pledged to give at least $100,000 of his own money every year for five years. Suzanne Nossel, chief executive of PEN America, told the New York Times that the money would be used to help cover expenses related to PEN’s efforts to fight book bans including consultants, lawyers and costs associated with public campaigns and media events.
Dohle has recently been appointed to the board of the Sharjah Book Authority in the UAE where his voice is a powerful international presence.