Campaign for Our Shared Future (COSF) and Education Law Center-PA (ELC) joined forces on Thursday for a Banned Book Giveaway in Philadelphia as Moms for Liberty attendees were arriving for their National Summit.
Local, state, and national advocacy groups representing an array of causes including public education, LGBTQ+ rights, and promoting equality for all began organizing months ago upon learning that Philadelphia had been selected by the anti-government extremist group for their annual summit.
COSF Communications and Research Director Ernie Grigg and his team prepared to distribute free banned books at the corner of Twelfth and Filbert Streets just yards away from the Reading Terminal Market.
Grigg said a lot of the foot traffic consisted of tourists and shoppers and many were unaware that book banning was happening in public schools.
“We were planning to be out there for three or four hours. Everything was gone in two,” said Grigg referring to approximately 300 books that he helped distribute.
COSF’s mission focuses on public education.
“Where we saw our opportunity to make a difference is through school boards, working with organizations usually much closer to those districts, but making sure that we can help educate the public about what a school board does,” Grigg explained.
A primary COSF goal is to help get people involved, stay involved, and engage regularly at school board meetings. A wealth of materials is available on their website to help community members learn more about organizing, messaging and running candidates for school boards.
“If you don’t like what you’ve been seeing, then we will happily give you the resources to get out the vote,” he said.
When it comes to book banning and discriminatory education policies, “Pennsylvania is kind of an epicenter of this activity,” said the Education Law Center’s Communications Specialist Paul Socolar. He was handing out QR code flyers to provide the public with access to a toolkit of materials and information from the group’s Inclusive Schools and Honest Education initiative.
“For the last year and more across the commonwealth, our public schools have been plagued by attacks on truth; queer students have been targeted, isolated, and subject to unreasonable restrictions that are rooted in hate and in fear,” said ELC attorney Ashli-Giles Perkins in a press release about the demonstrations against the Moms For Liberty Philadelphia-based convention. “The diversity and differences that we celebrate across America are severely at risk.”
ELC believes every child has the right to learn and has been promoting fair and equitable school funding, racial justice and effective school reform for fifty years.
The books given away by COSF and ELC are titles that have been targeted in school district book banning challenges across the country and included And Tango Makes Three, Sulwe, Abuela, Dear Martin, The Hate U Give, All American Boys, The Poet X, Front Desk, New Kid, Maus, When Aidan Became a Brother, The Gravity of Us, and Too Bright to See.