Bound Together: Understanding Book Censorship | Peace Through Action USA

Bound Together: Understanding Book Censorship | Thursday, August 31, 2023

Event Description 

Bound Together: Understanding Book Censorship explored the relationship between public access to literary material and cultivating peaceful communities. This virtual learning event held on Thursday, August 31, 2023 from 7:00 – 8:00 pm ET engaged a variety of perspectives on book restrictions in educational and public service contexts. Enriched by reflections from professionals in the field, this interactive discussion surveyed the significance of book restrictions in community cohesion, shared resources for local initiatives, and shared strategies for advocacy, education, and service. Participants learned methods to build and preserve a culture of peace by promoting diverse modes of knowledge production and social understanding. While the term “book banning” often elicits a range of inflammatory connotations, this session aimed to present the issue of public awareness and community bridge-building as fundamental elements of peacebuilding. After attending this event, participants enhanced their understanding of this controversial subject and examined the importance of the freedom to read in service of peace, harmony, and justice.

Presenter Biographies

Carlos Childs is the Southern Maryland Regional Community Organizer for the ACLU of Maryland. As Regional Organizer he has worked on legal justice reform, LGBTQ+ rights, education policies, and more. His regions cover Charles, Calvert, and Prince George’s County in Maryland. Aside from the ACLU of Maryland, Carlos has been a Southern Maryland activist for years fighting for worker rights and housing justice.

Sarah Hall, born and raised in Calvert County, has been an activist for peace and justice for over twenty years. She has worked to bring awareness to racial inequality, police brutality, and the marginalization of the LGBTQIA+ people in our community. She is also a visual arts educator and accomplished graphic artist with clients such as the American Red Cross, AARP, UNICEF, the American Association for Justice, SKDKnickerbocker, PBS, and the Center for Justice and Democracy. Learn more about her design work at sarahmariahall.com.

Chris Walonski, of Saint Petersburg, Florida, is the director of programs and partnerships development and delivery with Peace Through Action USA. Chris is responsible for designing instruction in civic engagement and social engagement concepts and practices; writing and editing educational and promotional materials; planning and delivering educational activities; implementing performance management procedures; and engaging with organizations and networks aligned with Peace Through Action’s mission. Chris’s programmatic work has engaged a broad range of community intervention strategies and performance-based teaching methods. Prior to joining Peace Through Action USA, Chris served as a program researcher and professor of public speaking at East Tennessee State University. In this capacity, Chris married his passion for project development with the power of personal narrative to help produce a campus-wide sexual consent training program. Chris’ love for crafting educational experiences has taken him from public schools in Thailand to the Amazon rainforest of Peru. Upon returning to the United States as a program manager for the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), Chris designed and delivered a bilingual training program that incorporated an array of community partnerships serving multicultural and multilingual youth. Chris has served as an AmeriCorps member through Teach For America’s Colorado Corps. Chris holds a Master of Arts in communication and storytelling studies from East Tennessee State University. As an avid learner, Chris has completed training in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI) and holds a CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) certification from Cambridge University. Chris is a grateful recipient of the Hemera Foundation’s Fellowship for Contemplative Education and is an eager student of Buddhist meditation. In his personal time, Chris has toured the U.S. as a spoken word artist and National Poetry Slam champion.

Learning Resources 

Resources and Services in Calvert County, Maryland

  • Connect with the ACLU of Maryland, which focuses on defending civil rights and civil liberties in Maryland.
  • Explore the Banned Books Week to read literature from the Calvert County Library.
  • Engage with the Calvert Library to explore literature and defend the First Amendment in Calvert County.

Reading List

About Peace Through Action Events

Peace Through Action Events gather youth and adults of all ages to learn about civic and social topics with a focus on peace. Using delivery methods of subject expert lecture, skills training, film discussion, artistic presentation, reflection, and experiential activities, Peace Through Action Events participants gain knowledge on compassionate living, peaceful practices, and social justice concerns.

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