We Will Not Let Them Rewrite History

04 Oct, 23

The first week of October is Banned Books Week, a time to renew our commitment to protecting the freedom to read. This year’s reflection on Banned Books Week coincides with a growing movement that threatens not only public education and libraries but the future of our democracy. As you read this e-mail, a coordinated effort is silencing voices, erasing narratives, and manipulating the truth. In recent years, we have witnessed a disturbing trend across the nation: attempts to ban books, change school curriculums, and undermine Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs. These efforts not only threaten our freedom of expression but also directly attack the principles of equality, justice, and understanding.

In the Houston Independent School District (HISD), this attack on our fundamental rights and history has hit home in a particularly devastating way. At least 28 librarians recently had their positions eliminated, and over 50 school libraries have been removed to make room for detention centers in majority Black and Brown schools. This action pulls up the ladder for Black and Brown communities, further exacerbating educational inequities that we have worked hard to eradicate.

Know that in Harris County, we are fighting back. At our last Commissioners Court meeting, we officially designated our Harris County Public Library (HCPL) system as a "book sanctuary." This declaration signifies our unwavering dedication to providing a safe and inclusive space where every voice is heard, every story is valued, and every idea is respected. Our libraries are sanctuaries of knowledge and enlightenment, where diversity of thought is celebrated, not suppressed.

As we celebrate Banned Book Week, let us pledge to continue the fight against those who seek to write us out of history, censor the stories that have shaped us, and limit our access to the rich tapestry of human experiences. I encourage you to visit HCPL to explore its collection. Let us defend our right to read freely, learn openly, and embrace the rich mosaic of voices that make up our community.

Together, we can ensure that our libraries remain beacons of enlightenment and that our community remains resilient in the face of adversity.


Rodney Ellis