(NEW YORK)— The Sanctuary for Banned Books at Coral Gables, FL, Congregational Church will host a celebration, reading and giveaway on Tues. June 6 of recently challenged books in the Miami-Dade school system, including The Hill We Climb by the poet Amanda Gorman, whose reading electrified President Biden’s inauguration in 2021.

Miami-Dade County Poet Laureate Richard Blanco, who read “One Today” at President Obama’s 2013 swearing-in ceremony, and Edwidge Danticat, a prize-winning novelist— will read from challenged books. Students, writers, teachers and parents will also speak and read from challenged books.

The event was organized by the Sanctuary and its supporters in Miami-Dade County, with Amanda Gorman generously supporting the giveaway of more than 1,200 books. 

The event will feature Dr. Marvin Dunn, author, historian and founder of the Miami Center for Racial Justice, and representatives from PEN America, ACLU of Florida, National Coalition Against Censorship, United Teachers of Dade, Florida Freedom to Read, O, Miami, and Books & Books. Poet Tom Healy, a PEN America trustee, was also among individuals who contributed to the giveaway.

William Johnson, director of PEN Across America, will speak for PEN America, which is  urging supporters to send a message to the Miami-Dade school district opposing the book withdrawals.

As the result of one parent’s complaint, The Hill We Climb, along with The ABC’s of Black History by Rio Cortez and Lauren Semmer, and Love to Langston by Tony Medina and R. Gregory Christie, were banned at the Bob Graham Education Center, a K-8 school in the Miami-Dade school system. Access to the books has been restricted for elementary students.

Jonathan Friedman, director of PEN America’s Free Expression and Education program, said: “The fact that a bogus challenge from a single individual can get books banned goes to the heart of the alarming trends we are seeing play out across Florida. Schools in a democracy should be focused on supporting the freedom to read, not restricting learning opportunities and robbing people of books that can ignite their imaginations. We are grateful that the outcry over this disturbing situation is being heard throughout the Miami-Dade community.”


What: A Celebration and Book Giveaway of the recently challenged books in the Miami-Dade County Public School System, including inaugural poet Amanda Gorman’s The Hill We Climb

When: Tuesday, June 6 at 6pm

Where: The Sanctuary for Banned Books at Coral Gables Congregational Church, 3010 De Soto Boulevard, Coral Gables, Florida 33134

About PEN America

PEN America has been at the forefront of documenting and defending against the historic sweep of school book bans nationwide. Florida has the second highest number of banned books behind Texas. Depriving students of exemplary literary works flies in the face of basic constitutional freedoms and PEN America is suing Escambia County, Florida, over its book bans. Black authors and books about race have been disproportionately affected by the sweep of book bans across the country documented by PEN America in the last year and a half.

The wave of book banning is worse than anything seen in decades. PEN America has counted more than 4,000 book bans since the fall of 2021. Most often, books removed target LGBTQ+ authors and authors of color, and topics about race, racism, and LGBTQ+ identities.

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. To learn more visit PEN.org 

Contact: Lisa B. Palley, Palley Promotes, [email protected]305.642.3132

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