LeVar Burton leads dozens of celebs in open letter against book bans

A coalition of Hollywood entertainers, led by actor LeVar Burton, signed an open letter petitioning against the recent wave of book bans in the U.S.

“As artists, creators, entertainers, and activists, we recognize and are horrified by the threat of censorship in the form of book bans,” the coalition wrote in its letter sent on Tuesday, adding that the latest wave of book bans “is not just antithetical to free speech and expression but has a chilling effect on the broader creative field.”

It continues, “The government cannot and should not create any interference or dictate what people can produce, write, generate, read, listen to, or consume.”

The coalition also warned that it won’t be long until those with regressive, suppressive ideologues shift their focus to restricting the art and entertainment industry, noting those groups can target marginalized communities in their future attacks.

“We refuse to remain silent as one creative field is subjected to oppressive bans,” the letter reads. “As artists, we must band together, because a threat to one form of art is a threat to us all.”

“We are calling on everyone to join us in pushing back against these book bans, support free and open creative industries—regardless of personal or ideological disagreements—and use their voice at the local level to stop these bans in their school districts. There is power in artistic freedom, and we refuse to allow draconian politicians to take that from us,” it continues.

The letter, which was signed by 175 entertainers, was published by progressive public advocacy organization and political action committee MoveOn. The letter features signatures from Ariana Grande, Gabrielle Union, Ron Perlman, Constance Wu, Idina Menzel, Mark Ruffalo, Natasha Lyonne, Michael Ian Black and Patton Oswalt.

The letter comes as multiple GOP-led states have implemented bans on certain books that contain content related to race and LGBTQ identity. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing last week on the issue.

“It’s embarrassing that we are banning books in this country, in this culture, in this day and age. And it’s dangerous that a handful of individuals are deciding that any book with Black and queer people is divisive,” said Burton, a former “Star Trek: The Next Generation” star and “Reading Rainbow” host.

“I’m proud to be surrounded by hundreds of artists and millions of MoveOn members who are solidly against this type of censorship. We are calling on everyone to join us in raising their voices to uphold artistic freedom, embrace multicultural history, and put a stop once and for all to book bans.”

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