This past Monday night, the National Coalition Against Censorship held its annual “celebration of free speech and its defenders,” which focused this year on the censorship of books in schools and libraries. Two hundred people turned out for the event, which raised close to $150,000 for the organization. Author Lauren Myracle, whose books were the most challenged in the U.S. in 2009, according to the ALA, was one of three honorees. She was joined by Dee Ann Venuto, a librarian at Rancocas Valley High School in Mt. Holly, N.J., who worked to keep books with LGBT content in her school’s library; and 19-year-old Jordan Allen, who won the NCAC’s 2009 Youth Free Expression film contest for his short film Freedom Thieves, which was screened at the event.
“We’re the only national organization devoted exclusively to opposing censorship wherever and whenever it takes place,” said Joan Bertin, executive director of the NCAC, now in its 36th year, in her opening remarks. “If you think censorship doesn’t happen, hang out in our office for a few days.” Michael Jacobs, president and CEO of Abrams, who served as chair for the event, emphasized the commitment of Abrams as well as others “in the business of books” to “the most basic of our rights, the freedom of speech,” to the rights of authors to “make their views public,” and to “those who read books and their right to read what they want to read.”
During her presentation, Myracle expressed gratitude for the support of her parents and her son, Jamie (all of whom were in attendance), her editors at Abrams and Penguin, and author Judy Blume, an honorary chair of the NCAC who was also in attendance. (Myracle also joked that Blume, “started me down the path to ruin.”) Read on for a collection of photographs from the evening’s festivities. (All photos: Lori Heddinger.)