The Assault on Black Thought: Book Banning in Florida
In June of 2021, the Florida State Board of Education approved a policy amendment that banned classroom instruction of Critical Race Theory and The 1619 Project in Florida’s schools. This amendment was soon followed by a slate of Florida legislation seeking to censor books related to race in the classrooms.
On September 17, PEN America Miami/South Florida Chapter, Miami Book Fair, and Books & Books for a Banned Book Week, hosted a free speech-centered discussion. Moderated by Nadege Green and featuring contributors to The 1619 Project, acclaimed author Darryl Pinckney, and award-winning poet Danez Smith, this in-person conversation examined the recent censorious threats in Florida and the power of black literature to spur important cultural conversations. Our guests read from their work and engaged in a moderated thirty-minute discussion.
Nadege Green is a researcher, writer, and community historian based in Miami. Her work centers on the lived experiences of Black people in South Florida. Green’s practice and approach to storytelling is deeply rooted in history and first-person narratives that explore and connect issues around race, culture, climate justice, and displacement. Her reporting has appeared in The Atlantic, the Miami Herald, and NPR.
She is the founder of Black Miami-Dade, a multimedia storytelling and history platform that resists the erasure of Miami-Dade’s Black past.
Darryl Pinckney is a long-time contributor to The New York Review of Books, the author of two novels, High Cotton (1992) and Black Deutschland (2016), and two works of nonfiction, Out There: Mavericks of Black Literature (2002) and Blackballed: The Black Vote and US Democracy (2014). He has contributed to numerous other periodicals, including The Guardian, Harper’s, Los Angeles Times, The Nation, The New Republic, The New Yorker, the New York Times Book Review, The Paris Review, Slate, TLS, Vanity Fair, and Vogue. His several theatrical collaborations with director Robert Wilson have appeared internationally and at the Brooklyn Academy of Music
Danez Smith is the author of three collections including Homie and Don’t Call Us Dead. They have won the Forward Prize for Best Collection, the Minnesota Book Award in Poetry, the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, and have been a finalist for the NAACP Image Award in Poetry, the National Book Critic Circle Award, and the National Book Award. Danez’s poetry and prose have been featured in Vanity Fair, The New York Times, The New Yorker, GQ, Best American Poetry, and on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Danez is a member of the Dark Noise Collective and is the co-host of the podcast VS with Franny Choi. They live in Minneapolis near their people.