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The Antelope

Free movie screening commemorates banned books week

Also in celebration, students and faculty held an open reading of other infamous banned books. Photo by Traeton Harimon / Antelope Staff

The American Democracy Project and the Calvin T. Ryan Library sponsored a free screening of “To Kill a Mockingbird” at the World Theatre. This was one of many events held this year to celebrate Banned Books Week, an annual campagin celebrating the freedom to read and draw attention to challenged and banned literature. 

Diane Duffin, professor of political science and coordinator for the American Democracy Project, talked about the value of democracy, freedom of expression and civic engagement.

Duffin said this is the first year that ADP has participated in Banned Books Week.

“As Americans, we are protected by the Constitution, and it guarantees our freedoms,” Duffin said. “One of our freedoms is freedom to express ourselves. That also means the freedom to access knowledge or the freedom to inquire. There are factors in American politics that do try to suppress information, challenge libraries and ask libraries to remove content from the shelves that they think is controversial or offensive.”

Banned Books Week advocates for the preservation and access to content that often comes in question. Material containing graphic violence, expressing disrespect or questioning to forms of authority, sexually suggestive undertones, offensive language and violence and abuse endured by marginalized groups is often challenged. 

“The importance of reading banned books is to just show support for the arts, that authors and content creators have this protection,” Duffin said. “We are really just celebrating the right to access material.”

ADP and the library chose to show the film “To Kill a Mockingbird” because the book is frequently banned or challenged.

Evan Boyd, dean of the library, said banned books are an important thing for libraries to talk about and be involved in.

“Book banning has been around for quite a while,” Boyd said. “In the last three years, there has been a massive increase in the number of challenges to book collections and libraries, particularly school libraries and public libraries. While academic libraries aren’t as challenged, it’s important for us to support a well-informed community through having a wide variety of information available to them.”

Stephen Bennett, a retiree from the Kearney community who attended the screening, commented on his appreciation for the event and the World Theatre’s sponsorship. 

“It’s a very important topic to talk about,” Bennett said. “I’m hoping that this will pop the eyes of everybody in central Nebraska for book banning, maybe not in Nebraska but certainly around the country.”

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