MEDIA ADVISORY

Journalists must register in advance to cover. Contact to register: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected].

(ORLANDO)— On Friday evening, July 12 and all day Saturday, July 13, a coalition of Florida and national advocacy organizations will bring together hundreds of teachers, authors and activists in Orlando with a call to protect public education and defend free speech and the freedoms to read and learn against ongoing educational censorship and book bans under the DeSantis administration.

Press coverage is welcome during the public sessions of the “Unified Voices Summit on Educational Freedom,” which opens with an authors’ reception at 6 p.m. on Friday, with bestselling authors Lauren Groff and James Ponti and historian Dr. Marvin Dunn.

Bestselling author Jodi Picoult will give the keynote address at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, followed by a panel discussion at 11:10 a.m. on  “The State of Censorship, How Did We Get Here?” with Dr. Dunn, Pamela Burch Fort, and Senator Carlos Guillermo Smith, and moderated by Ana Sofia Pelaez with the Miami Freedom Project. At 2 p.m author and activist Stacey Abrams will kick off the afternoon session with a video message, followed by the afternoon panel:  “Unified Voices: the Vision Forward,” with Rep. Anna Eskamani, Stephana Ferrell, Karla Hernandz-Mats, Zander Morciz, and moderated by Damaris Allen with Families for Strong Public Schools.

The summit will include closed sessions afterward to give attendees the opportunity to speak freely about their experiences.

The summit will conclude by inviting attendees to sign onto a joint letter urging Gov. DeSantis to reverse his censorship agenda, which is damaging schools statewide and harming the education of the next generation of Floridians.

Sponsored by a nonpartisan coalition of organizations, including PEN America, National Coalition Against Censorship, Florida Freedom to Read Project, Interfaith Alliance, and PRISM, the summit will take place at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Orlando at SeaWorld, 10100 International Dr, Orlando.

Visit the event page for full details, the schedule of speakers and bios.

Read a blog that describes the goals of the event.

Since 2021, Florida has passed laws censoring public school classroom discussion of topics from Black history and race to LGBTQ rights and sexual violence; the state now ranks first in the nation on banned books. Teachers and media specialists are being threatened with loss of their careers and liberty and criminal prosecution.

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free 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