(TULSA)–  On Sat., Sept. 9, PEN Tulsa will host the Freedom to Read Community Summit, a series of workshops and discussions on the nationwide book-banning crisis and the intolerance, exclusion, and censorship that underpins it. The events are a collaboration with Black History Saturdays and the National Geographic Society’s 2892 Miles To Go program.

The summit will take place 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. at Vernon African Methodist Episcopal Church (311 Greenwood Ave., Tulsa). 

During the summit, participants will learn about PEN America’s report “Banned in the USA: State Laws Supercharge Book Suppression in Schools”  and the expanded censorship of books themed on race, history, sexual orientation, and gender. Following a presentation on the report, breakout workshops will cover effective advocacy strategies for community members to defend against book censorship. The event will feature special guests and provide additional opportunities to get involved in advocacy with PEN America’s Freedom to Read Program, Next Gen PEN America, and 2892 Miles to Go.

The event will include a celebration of free expression hosted by the Vernon African Methodist Episcopal Church. This program is free and open to all ages. Attendees under 18 will need permission from a parent or legal guardian to register, which is required and will stay open throughout the event. Breakfast and lunch will be provided.

Register in advance for the event here.

“We are at a critical crossroads in our community and state,” said PEN America Tulsa Chapter leader Jeff Martin. “Given the threats to our literary liberty from state officials and misguided policies, this event and others like it are absolutely essential for accountability, mobilizing allies, and sustaining our opposition.”

PEN America’s Index of School Book Bans found that in 2022, the books Flamer by Mike Curato and Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe were challenged in the Tulsa Public Schools system. Both books speak frankly about gender identity and sexuality and are the most challenged and banned books of 2022, according to PEN research.

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. Learn more at pen.org.

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], 201-247-5057