PEN America works tirelessly to defend free expression, support persecuted writers, and promote literary culture. Here are some of the latest ways PEN America is speaking out.

  • PEN America will honor songwriting legend Paul Simon with the PEN/Audible Literary Service Award at the 2024 PEN America Literary Gala to celebrate his indelible lyrics, boundless contributions to our canon and elevation of essential cultures over nearly six decades. Almar Latour, CEO of Dow Jones and publisher of The Wall Street Journal, will receive the Business Visionary award, reflecting his company’s commitment to the free press and persistence in demanding the release of Evan Gershkovich, the Journal reporter jailed in Russia. 
  • PEN America CEO made an appearance on PBS, interviewed by Amanpour and Company, talking about the “The Real Culture Wars” Between Democracy and Autocracy. 

  • PEN America strongly criticized the recent passage of House Bill 1291 by the Florida Senate, expressing concern that the legislation would stifle professors, curriculum, and classroom discussions on critical issues like race and gender in college-level teacher preparation programs. Katie Blankenship, Director of PEN America Florida, emphasized that the legislation restricts education on crucial issues, lacks clarity in defining terms, and ultimately weakens the public education system.
  • PEN America welcomed the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision to uphold a preliminary injunction against Florida’s Stop WOKE Act, condemning its “blatant viewpoint discrimination.” In the ruling of Inc. vs. DeSantis, the court asserts the Act’s infringement on employer training’s constitutionality, marking a victory for free expression and speech.
  • PEN America, alongside seven other non-partisan organizations, submitted a letter to the Florida Legislature denouncing the newly amended House Bill 3 (HB 3). The coalition, including the ACLU of Florida, the Trevor Project, and NetChoice, argues that the bill, seeking to restrict minors’ access to social media with parental consent for users aged 14 or 15, is overly vague and violates Floridians’ right to privacy. 
  • Kasey Meehan and Sam LaFrance from Freedom to Read wrote about the threat that the book-banning movement brings to topics related to sexual violence in books. “A quarter of over 3,000 book bans that PEN America recorded were books with scenes of rape or sexual assault. Of the 12 most frequently banned titles, five contained scenes of rape or sexual assault: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Sold by Patricia McCormick, and Identical by Ellen Hopkins. The erasure of books on sexual abuse is striking amid an epidemic of sexual violence.”
  • Katie Blankenship, Director of PEN America Florida also wrote about the recent tide of censorship bills in the Florida Legislature this session and the evident crack in this latest wave. 

See previous PEN America updates