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Banned Books Week: Kurt Vonnegut Museum & Library focuses on civic engagement

Posted at 11:17 AM, Sep 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-28 11:21:52-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Banned Books Week celebrates our First Amendment protections and, according to the American Libraries Association, reminds readers to "remain vigilant about continual threats to our freedom to read."

Every year the entire book community — from librarians and booksellers to teachers and readers — comes together to rally behind the freedom to seek, express, and read ideas that, to some, may be considered unorthodox.


Books can be banned from schools or libraries for countless reasons, including addressing topics such as LGBTQIA+ content, sexual references, religious viewpoints, racism, police brutality, and profanity.

Indianapolis' Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library is celebrating our freedom to read at its new location on Indiana Avenue with virtual and in-person events focused on civic engagement.

“This year will be special and unique for so many reasons as this is our first Banned Books Week since opening in our new home all while we’re trying to survive and navigate through a global pandemic,” Julia Whitehead, KVML's founder and CEO, said. “Our events will be accessible virtually, and our hope is to integrate in-person events and opportunities in a safe, meaningful way. In the midst of all this, the real goal is to bring awareness to literary censorship and celebrate important works that resonate with us personally and culturally.”

To help spotlight current and historical attempts at censoring books in libraries and schools, KVML has brought in an activist in residence, Indianapolis poet Manon Voice, to engage with visitors at the museum all week long.

Manon Voice is Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library's 2020 activist in residence for Banned Books Week.

Visitors can also visit KVML and interact with Voice at any time during Banned Books Week (see hours below). Visitors will need to purchase their timed admission tickets online for specific days as there will be capacity restrictions due to COVID-19 compliance.

Here are KVML's Banned Books Week events:

  • Free Speech in the Cancel Culture

Monday, September 28, 6:00 p.m.$12-$15 (or week pass)Emcee Una Osili leads presenters Poet Manon Voice, Professor James H. Madison, Mayor Joe Hogsett, and others as they share their thoughts on communicating in society these days and offer a passage from their favorite banned book.

  • A History of Protesting for Change

Tuesday, September 29, 6:00 p.m.$12-$15 (or week pass)Judy Thomas will lead a History of Protesting for Change: Reading and discussion with “Abbie Hoffman” biographer Dan Simon, poet Manon Voice, and IUPUI Professor of Education Dr. Lasana Kazembe.

  • Radical Reading Circle

Wednesday, September 30, 6:00 p.m.$12-$15 (or week pass)Radical Reading Circle with IUPUI Professor of Education Dr. Lasana Kazembe, will feature the work of James Baldwin to introduce this ongoing program.

  • KVML Banned Books Week Fundraiser with Phoenix Theatre

Thursday, October 1, 6:00 p.m.This safe, in-person event features readings from Kurt Vonnegut: WordPlay, a new original play by David Hoppe featuring Manon Voice and presentations by Terrian Barnes and Tom Crosby. Tickets for members start at $100 and includes a week pass for the rest of Banned Books Week virtual events.

  • Virtual reading and interview with Ryan North

Friday, October 2, 6:00 p.m.$12-$15 (or week pass)Join Debra DesVignes as she introduces Sierra Hahn, editor at Boom Studios, who will conduct a virtual reading and interview with Ryan North, adaptor of Slaughterhouse-Five graphic novel, and illustrator Albert Monteys.

  • So It Goes literary journal release

Saturday, October 3: 11:00 a.m. – 12:00p.m.Free/virtualJoin KVML’s Founder and CEO Julia Whitehead who will unveil KVML’s annual literary journal So It Goes with contributors and artists reading and showing their work. From 12:00 p.m.- 3:00 p.m., KVML Education Coordinator Nick Willy welcomes you to the Youth Writing Program workshops including Writing for Graphic Novels with Ryan North, Writing for Change with Dr. Lasana Kazembe, and Writing for Fun with John David Anderson.

You can see list upon list of banned books from across the country, including works by Sherman Alexie, Toni Morrison, Alex Gino, John Green, and E. L. James, on the ALA's website, here.

Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library
Sunday – Thursday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Friday: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. (includes First Friday Open House)
Saturday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. (free admission)