Olin Book Exhibit celebrates Wesleyan Diversity Summit

A new exhibit in Olin Library’s east hallway celebrates Wesleyan’s 2nd annual Diversity Summit “Critical Race Theory: From Concept to Action” and the annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Commemoration.  Come browse and check out works by featured speakers Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings and Andratesha Fritzgerald, as well as other books related to CRT.  Dr. Ladson-Billings, a UW-Madison professor emerita, is a renowned pedagogical theorist and teacher educator.  For some of the many article by and about Dr. Ladson-Billings available through the library, click here.  Andratesha Fritzgerald is the Project Grant Director, Department of Educator Quality at Educational Service Center of Northeast Ohio, and an international consultant with over 20 years experience in urban education.

In addition, the exhibit calls attention to increasing efforts by opponents of critical race theory to ban books about race and by BIPOC authors.  As a January 9 article in The Root proclaims “No Surprise Here: The Most Recent Wave of Book Bans Includes More Black Authors Than Ever,” and a New York Times article from January 30 warns “Book Ban Efforts Spread Across the U.S.” The American Library Association is providing support to libraries impacted by these challenges and has condemned such censorship.

In recent months, a few organizations have advanced the proposition that the voices of the marginalized have no place on library shelves. To this end they have launched campaigns demanding the censorship of books and resources that mirror the lives of those who are gay, queer, or transgender, or that tell the stories of persons who are Black, Indigenous or persons of color. Falsely claiming that these works are subversive, immoral, or worse, these groups induce elected and non-elected officials to abandon constitutional principles, ignore the rule of law, and disregard individual rights to promote government censorship of library collections. Some of these groups even resort to intimidation and threats to achieve their ends, targeting the safety and livelihoods of library workers, educators, and board members who have dedicated themselves to public service, to informing our communities, and educating our youth. 

ALA strongly condemns these acts of censorship and intimidation.  

We are committed to defending the constitutional rights of all individuals, of all ages, to use the resources and services of libraries.  We champion and defend the freedom to speak, the freedom to publish, and the freedom to read, as promised by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. 

Books that have been challenged range from Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and Beloved to Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents and Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning and How to be an Antiracist.  Young people’s books include All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson and Something Happened in Our Town by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, Ann Hazzard.  Check out some of these books or read them online via Wesleyan Library’s collection or find young people’s selections through Middletown’s Russell Library.

If you’d like a reading list to learn more about critical race theory, take a look at Choice’s Towards Inclusive Excellence “Primer on Critical Race Theory.”  Library staff can help you find these resources in Wesleyan’s collection or via Interlibrary Loan.