Home Culture Hoboken Public Library’s ‘Banned Book’ Read-a-Thon Still On for Saturday

Hoboken Public Library’s ‘Banned Book’ Read-a-Thon Still On for Saturday

by Hoboken Girl Team
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Throughout Pride month, various organizations have shown support and hosted various events in the Hoboken and Jersey City community. One such event, the Hoboken Public Library’s Banned Book Read-a-thon, was the target of hateful messages on social media — aimed at the Hoboken Public Library ahead of its taking place Saturday, June 17th, 2023. Despite a barrage of social media attacks, the event is still on for this weekend.

hoboken public library banned book readathon

“In celebration of Pride Month, Hoboken Public Library and the City of Hoboken invite you to Read Out Loud and Proud! Join us in Church Square Park on Saturday, June 17 as we read from books that have been “banned” across the country. All are welcome!,” the Hoboken Public Library tweeted on Monday.

The event will still take place on Saturday, June 17th from 11AM-4PM at Church Square Park (rain location at HPL’s 500 Park Ave location).

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hoboken public library banned books event

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^the event’s lineup. It is still on as planned.

The Hoboken Public Library stated publicly to Hudson County View that the event was still taking place.

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“Our programming reflects the values of our community. When parents bring our kids to a story time, regardless who’s reading, they’ve made an informed choice. Again, all the programming at the library reflects the values of our community,” he shared with HCV.

Mayor Bhalla shared a post on his social media, expressing support for the event — as well as putting out a Nixle alert that the event was still on:

As residents may have seen, unfortunately the @hobokenlibrary has been the target of hateful social media accounts purposefully spreading false information about a Pride month event scheduled to take place this Saturday.

These social media accounts have resulted in hundreds of hateful messages targeted at the Hoboken Library, and other participants of the event that are disgusting expressions of homophobia, racism, and intolerance. Let me be abundantly clear: the City of Hoboken is a fair and welcoming community, and these expressions of hate have absolutely no place here.

The event on Saturday, a reading of books that have been unfortunately banned in states and cities all across the country, demonstrates our commitment to support and celebrate our LGBTQIA+ populations, among others.

Let me also be clear: these book bans are an unfortunate attempt to marginalize, degrade, and silence those like our valued LGBTQIA+ communities, and sweep under the rug critical topics including race and racism that are discussed in many of these books. The majority of these challenges were targeted at books written by or about members of the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as black people, indigenous people, and people of color, and that has been no accident.

When we start banning books, when we infringe upon the civil rights of Americans, such as freedom of speech and expression, and when we suppress free thought, we undermine the very foundations of our society.

I encourage Hoboken parents and children to have these important discussions on what books they feel are appropriate for their families and education. Parents, with the support of their children, should be making these decisions, just like my wife and I have done with our two children.

I invite you to stand alongside me, fellow readers, and advocates like Harmonica Sunbeam on Saturday, June 17, at Church Square Park from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. I am honored to be a part of the read-a-thon this Saturday, where age-appropriate books will be read.

I know in Hoboken, love will always overcome hate, and I am fully confident this event on Saturday will be no different.”

Councilman Mike DeFusco also sent out a statement on June 14th, showing his support for the upcoming event:

“Councilman Mike DeFusco, the First Ward representative on the Hoboken City Council and the County’s first out gay elected official, clarifies confusion and expresses his support for the Hoboken Public Library’s upcoming banned book reading event in honor of Pride Month.

In response to concerns raised by some community members, Councilman DeFusco addresses the inadvertent use of a book cover intended for persons aged 16+, which has caused some confusion. He wants to clarify that the book in question, or any book with explicit sexual content, will not be part of the reading event for school-age children and urges the library to be more careful next time when promoting the event.

“Suppressing individuals and their identities has created generations of repression and trauma for the LGBTQ+ community,” Councilman DeFusco states. “Banning books that highlight the struggles and triumphs of queer people is important to the future generations and their happiness. It is essential that we provide our community with opportunities to learn and understand the diverse experiences of others.”

Councilman DeFusco further emphasizes the significance of promoting tolerance, empathy, and education in creating a more inclusive society. He believes that providing access to books that explore different perspectives and experiences is a vital step towards building a more accepting community.

“I stand with the Hoboken Public Library and its commitment to fostering understanding and acceptance,” Councilman DeFusco affirms. “Education is key in dispelling misconceptions and fostering empathy among individuals. The banned book reading event represents a powerful platform to facilitate dialogue and encourage a more inclusive future for all.”

Many community members commented on the social media posts in support of the event.

This comes at the same time that the Hoboken Police Department has launched the new “Safe Place Initiative” that was developed by the Seattle Police Department. The initiative is meant to remind people of how to report hate crimes as well as create safe spaces within the community.

The initiative has been embraced by three locally-owned coffee shops — The Hive, Uncle Milton’s Cafe, and Bean Vault Coffee — and other businesses are being invited to join the free program and display a decal. For more information or to request a decal, click here.

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