Celebrating the Freedom to Read: September 24 - September 30, 2017

Levi Todd

Member of book club 451 degrees at Lane Tech (Chicago) who opposed the censorship of Marjane Satrapi’s 'Persepolis'
Chicago Public Schools
Chicago, Ill.

How did you hear about the book challenge in our community and why did you take action?

The news of the event blossomed out of gossip and hearsay, because no officials were making any announcement or statements to justify their forced removal of Persepolis. We decided to protest in order to accomplish two goals; one was to make the public aware of what CPS was trying to keep hush-hush. The second was to force CPS to respond to our movement.

You can get books at the library or store; why should we care about a book being removed from one class of students or one community?

Any form of censorship simply lets a snowball start rolling. If it starts with light restrictions, who is to say that officials won’t keep their momentum, until we have an entire state like Alabama that’s trying to ban The Bluest Eye. If the population doesn’t stop this snowball, it’s their own fault when it creates an avalanche.

Why do you think being aware of book challenges or bans is important to our country today?

The issue is that not enough people understand the significance of censorship, on a small or large scale, and they’ll only start to care until it immediately affects them, and sometimes then it’s too late.

Who inspires you? Who is your hero?

I’ve got to give major props to Marjane Satrapi. When she found out about the challenge on Persepolis, she wrote a public letter, asking all the questions CPS wouldn’t answer. I’m glad that there are writers like her that are so dedicated to their craft, and not just their next royalties paycheck.