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.

Jamie Wolf, recipient of PEN America's Philanthropic Visionary Award

Jamie Wolf, recipient of PEN America’s Philanthropic Visionary Award

  • At PEN America’s Spring Soiree in Los Angeles, we presented the inimitable Jamie Wolf with our Philanthropic Visionary Award, celebrating Jamie’s lifelong commitment to the Los Angeles creative community. Jamie’s leadership of PEN Center USA prior to its unification with PEN America in 2018 led to the creation of the Emerging Voices Fellowship Program. 

  • PEN Across America co-sponsored an author event in our Tulsa Chapter with Tracie McMillan, author of The White Bonus, interviewed by Victor Luckerson, author of Built From the Fire: The Epic Story of Tulsa’s Greenwood District, America’s Black Wall Street. This event was hosted by our partners at Magic City Books. 

Victor Luckerson interviews Tracie McMillan interviewed in Tulsa

Victor Luckerson interviews Tracie McMillan interviewed in Tulsa

  • For World Press Freedom Day on May 3, we collaborated with our colleagues in Dallas working on Disinformation to host Navigating Truth & Fiction, a panel discussion focusing on how local Black journalists in Dallas are cultivating resistance and resilience to disinformation in the press. 

Navigating Truth & Fiction, a panel discussion in Dallas

Navigating Truth & Fiction, a panel discussion in Dallas

  • Today the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education Farida Shaheed issued her preliminary findings after a 10 day official visit to the United States. PEN America staff met with the Special Rapporteur over two days for discussions in Washington, D.C.  She reported concern about a variety of issues ranging from the violent crackdown on peaceful student protesters to the independence of educators and academic freedom in the United States. She noted, “I am particularly concerned about the recent trend of introducing educational gag orders…The alarming trend of book bans has raised grave concerns about censorship, freedom of expression, and the very essence of education itself.” Attacks on protesters, she adds, “signal a concerning erosion of intellectual freedom and democratic principles within educational settings.” PEN America calls on the US Government to study carefully the Special Rapporteur’s preliminary findings and work to address her significant findings which echo many of PEN America’s continuing concerns.
  • Tasslyn Magnusson, program consultant with Freedom to Read at PEN America, wrote that amid skyrocketing book bans in public school libraries, heightened rhetoric describing LGBTQ+ and sex education content as “obscene” or “pornographic” has also proliferated across public libraries from Alabama to California.

  • Florida Director Katie Blankenship wrote a letter along with leaders from the Florida Youth Action Fund, the ACLU of Florida, the NAACP Florida State Conference and more to express concern over law enforcement cracking down on pro-Palestine demonstrators on campuses.

  • Tim Richardson, program director of Journalism and Disinformation, spoke about our revamped guide to to misinformation specifically tied to the pro-Palestinian protests. 

  • Jeremy C. Young and Sam LaFrance of the Freedom to Learn team wrote for The Des Moines Register that Iowa’s DEI bill, which is copied directly from model legislation written by the conservative Manhattan Institute, would prohibit public university administrations from expressing any “widely contested opinion” on a dizzying array of specific ideas – essentially a license to ban anything the government of Iowa dislikes. 

  • PEN International, Cuban Writers in Exile PEN Centre, and Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) expressed deep concern over the increasing use of arbitrary detentions, threats, and summonses by Cuban authorities against dissident writers, journalists, and artists. 
  • PEN America signed a statement from the American Historical Association endorsing concerns over the use of force against peaceful protests on college campuses related to the conflict in Gaza.
  • Mina Haq wrote about a conversation hosted by the National Press Club Journalism Institute between journalists and experts who laid out the scope of the disinformation problem – and how reporters can combat it.
  • PEN America partnered with Right To Be to host a Bystander Intervention webinar for World Press Freedom Day.
  • PEN America’s Jeje Mohamed participated in the panel “Environmental Journalists on the Frontlines of Democracy” hosted by the Wilson Center.

See previous PEN America updates