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Freedom to Read Round Table
February 24 @ 4:00 pm - 5:15 pm
Join us for a crucial round table discussion of censorship and tangible steps to protect the freedom to read. Voices from every aspect of this ongoing and constantly evolving issue will weigh in, including a teacher, librarian, parent, legislator, author, and student, using the recent book bannings in Texas and the response from teachers, librarians, and the community at large as an example of a way forward in protecting the first amendment nationwide. The ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom will close out the program and all attendees will receive resources following the event. This event is sponsored by Booklist and Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group and is free to attend and open to all.
Brian Lopez is the Public Education Reporter for The Texas Tribune. He joined the Tribune in August 2021 after covering local government at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for a little over a year. The Star-Telegram was his first gig after graduating from the University of Texas at Arlington in May 2020 where he worked for the student-run newspaper The Shorthorn. When not on the job, he’s either watching or playing soccer.
George Matthew Johnson is a writer and activist best known for their “memoir-manifesto” titled All Boys Aren’t Blue. The book was optioned for a TV series less than two months after its April 28, 2020 release. Johnson has also written articles for outlets such as BuzzFeed, BET, Vice, The Root, Essence, Teen Vogue, and The Advocate.
Erica Sanchez is a lifelong learner that believes books open new portals and perspectives. Erica was a dual language educator for 12 years, is a community advocate, Tejana, wife and mother. She currently works in the non-profit sector and advocates on behalf of early childhood education.
Jeneta N. is a high school junior from Texas. She is an editor-in-chief on her school’s student newspaper. She likes to draw portraits, cook new recipes, and learn about the world. On any given day, you can probably find her attempting to understand a TV series or YouTube video in French.
Ryan S. is a 15 year old sophomore and attends Timber Creek High School in Keller Texas. He was born in China with a physical disability of having one hand. At the age of 3 1/2 he was adopted and immigrated to America. He has a learning disability that affects his writing and reading but it doesn’t stop him from reading for hours. Ryan is in a national speech debate association and also in Texas Association of Future Educators. When he grows up he wants to become a teacher and teach the kids of the future and inspire them to love to learn. He dealt with a lot of discrimination over his lifetime due to his race and sexuality and has been drawn to reading books that reflect his representation. Ryan connected to books and fell in love with literature because he can look at the books and say “there I am”.
Mary Woodard, Texas Library Association president-elect, is the Director of Library Services for Mesquite ISD She is responsible for supervising district processing center staff, designing professional development for librarians, establishing, and implementing a vision for school libraries. She has more than 30 years of experience as a school librarian.
The Honorable Erin Zwiener is an author, educator, and conservationist who is currently serving her second term in the Texas House of Representatives. She’s committed to fighting for our Texas values of healthy communities, inclusivity, and common sense government. Rep. Zwiener serves on the House Committees on Public Health, House Administration, and Appropriations, where she is the Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Article III (Education). She is a member of the House Democratic Caucus, LGBTQ Caucus, Criminal Justice Reform Caucus, Women’s Health Caucus, and IT Caucus. In January of 2021, Rep. Zwiener established the Caucus on Climate, Environment, and the Energy Industry and currently serves as its Chair. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resource Conservation, a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, and is a three-time Jeopardy! champion. She lives in Driftwood with her husband Quincy, daughter Lark, a dog, three horses, a mule, a pony, a pig, and too many chickens.