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Banned American writing to be unveiled

Each year, the nation recognizes Banned Book Week in honor of American authors whose works have been challenged and banned from library shelves. On Oct. 1, Columbus will celebrate the African-American authors who have been targets of censorship during “Banned Brilliance of African-American Authors.”
Sponsored by Ohio State’s department of African-American studies and the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, the event will feature readings of passages from various banned books, said Morgan Patten, program coordinator for ACLU of Ohio.
“Brilliant authors such as Richard Wright, Toni Morrison and Ernest Gaines have been victims of censorship because their works contain content that many people view as too controversial and inappropriate for some age groups,” Patten said. “We hope to raise awareness of this issue.”
Columbus city councilwoman Charleta Tavares and State Rep. Tracy Heard will join other members of the community for the book reading at 6 p.m. at the OSU Department of African-American Studies Community Extension Center. The event is free and open to the public.
Though ACLU annually sponsors different “Banned Brilliance” events, this is the first time one has been held in Columbus, said Mike Brickner, communications director for ACLU of Ohio.
He said books written by African-American authors often feature themes of oppression, violence, sex and other topics many people are uncomfortable with.
“It’s a timely issue,” Brickner said. “Books are still being challenged today.”
It’s an issue of First Amendment rights, Patten said.
“Libraries should foster intellectual freedom. [Book banning] prevents people with unpopular ideas from expressing themselves.”
Brickner said OSU students are fortunate to have access to many books that are often challenged. It would be a good experience for students to attend the event and become aware of the issue.
“Some of the most brilliant writers and thinkers are persecuted before they can be respected for their amazing work,” he said. “Students would be surprised by the censorship that happened in the past and by how often is still happens.”

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