Malcolm X


Born on this day in 1925, Malcolm Little grew up in poverty and lived a life of crime. While in prison he worked to self-educate and converted to Islam, Publicly he became known as Malcolm X, dropping what he referred to as his “slave name.” Intelligent, articulate and charismatic, Malcolm X would become one of the leading figures of the fight for equality for African-Americans. In contrast to Martin Luther King who called for non-violent protest, Malcolm X believed that violence would be necessary for black people to gain their rights. Early on he was considered to be a black-supremacist who believed that blacks and whites could never live together. However, he would eventually disavow that position, and would preach the equality of all people and express a hope for peaceful coexistence. In the years prior to his death, he began to reach out with a willingness to work with other Civil Rights groups and leaders. In particular it was after the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca required of all Muslims, where he experienced the coming together of people of all races and backgrounds, that he embraced the possibility of peaceful change rather than inevitable violence. Tragically, he wouldn’t live long in pursuit of those dreams. He was assassinated in 1965 by members of the group he formerly led, the Nation of Islam.

For more on the life of Malcolm X:

MalcolmX.com (official website of the estate of Malcolm X)

The Malcolm X Project at Columbia University

American Experience: Timeline of Malcolm X

Malcolm

Freedom to Read; Obligation to Read

As Freedom to Read Week comes to an end, it bears considering that the freedom to read means nothing if citizens don’t exercise that that freedom.

“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”

Source: Unknown*

The rights and freedoms of Canadians include the right to read what you want to read. Such rights and freedoms are fundamental to democracy. Yet there are forces at work in our society that seek power by attaching your rights, including attempts to censor or limit your freedom to read.

Authoritarian forces and totalitarian states know that uneducated and illiterate citizens are easier to control and oppress. Such forces can only celebrate that the work is much simpler when significant portions of the population choose not to read. Censorship becomes less pressing when “aliteracy” becomes prevalent.

A true democracy guarantees fundamental rights and freedoms to its citizens. But to work effectively, indeed, to survive, democracy requires that citizens exercise those rights. In particular, democracy breaks down if citizens aren’t educated, informed and active.

The rise of powerful new information technology in the last few decades has made it more important than ever that citizens are highly “information literate.” Citizens must not only have access to information, they must have the tools required to wade through increasingly destructive levels of misinformation, disinformation, propaganda, and outright lies. Citizens need to have access to information that is credible, accurate and trustworthy.

The rise of anti-intellectualism and anti-science movements, perhaps most recently represented by anti-vax conspiracies, are part of the wider breakdown of democratic institutions. There is little doubt that attacks on public education over many years have reaped some these results and are integral to the rise of authoritarianism.

It is not enough to celebrate the Freedom to Read. As citizens of democratic societies, we have an obligation to exercise our Freedom to Read, in part so that we are equipped to defend our democratic rights and freedoms.

It is clear that democracy is under attack, throughout the world, and in our back yard. We must act.



Note* The above quote, or variations on it, are often popularly attributed to Mark Twain. However the original source of this quote, or its variations, remains unclear.

Freedom to Read Week

Freedom to Read Week celebrates your freedom to read what you choose to read.

These books have all been challenged.

These books have been challenged in Canada


A challenge means that at some point in Canada, someone or some group has said that you shouldn’t be reading these books in school, or borrowing them from libraries, or in some cases, even buying them from stores.



These books have all been challenged.


So have these books

Freedom to Read Week is a chance to celebrate your freedom to read what you choose to read. It is also a time to reflect on the ongoing battle to protect that freedom. What better way to celebrate Freedom to Read Week, and to exercise your rights and freedoms, than to read a book– maybe even one of these.

Find out more about books that have been challenged in Canada:


Freedom to Read Week

Your Freedom to Read is protected by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Your Freedom to Read is also in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.



Find out more:

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Universal Declaration of Human Rights


Freedom to Read Week

February 21 to 27 is Freedom to Read Week in Canada in 2021.  Come down to the School Library to find out more.  We have a display of books and other resources related to our freedom to read, our right to have access to information, and our responsibility to exercise those rights and freedoms as informed, free-thinking citizens. 

Freedom to Read Week 2021

Along with our in person display of books, magazines, audiobooks, playaways and more, we will will also feature online resources, such as ebooks, digital audiobooks, online databases, and more, so be sure to check out our site, tweedsmuirlibrary.ca.

You can also click here to find out more about Freedom to Read Week.

Democracy v. Fascism

Our students will leave our school and soon become the adults who will hold the future of democracy in their hands.  We must educate and equip our students to recognize the rights and responsibilities of democratic citizenship.  We must help them see the precious nature of the democratic traditions that have been handed to them by previous generations. We must help them see the fragile nature of those institutions and the peril that is represented by those forces that are at work to undermine democracy.

Most pressingly, we must help our students to recognize the rise of fascism, both in the world and in our own backyard.  We must equip our students to denounce fascist ideology and to defeat fascist attempts to destroy our democracy.

The politics of fear, division, and hate will fight for the souls of our students.  We must counter those dark forces with hope, unity and love.  Forces are at work undermining the foundations of democracy, including the rule of law, freedom of the press, public education, respect for science and reason, confidence in free and fair elections, and peaceful transitions of power. We must build up faith in those ideals in our kids, and equip them to demand them as their rightful expectation for a civil society.

Polarizing forces are at work which divide us, resulting in extreme “othering” to the point of dehumanization. We must find ways to help the next generation to reconcile that which divides us, or at least to find respectful and peaceful ways to engage with those divisions.  Somehow we must find common ground with our beliefs about truth. We must find some way to agree on “the facts” even if we don’t agree on what do with those facts.

Please check out our display of items related to the struggle between democracy and fascism.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

International Human Rights Day

From the United Nations:

Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December — the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR): a milestone document proclaiming the inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

The theme for Human Rights Day 2020 is “Recover Better: Stand Up for Human Rights.”  From the UN:

This year’s Human Rights Day theme relates to the COVID-19 pandemic and focuses on the need to build back better by ensuring Human Rights are central to recovery efforts. We will reach our common global goals only if we are able to create equal opportunities for all, address the failures exposed and exploited by COVID-19, and apply human rights standards to tackle entrenched, systematic, and intergenerational inequalities, exclusion and discrimination.

UN.org

Find out more:

Check out these books in your School Library:

Banned Books Week

September 27 to October 3 is Banned Books Week.  Established in 1982 and currently sponsored by the Banned Books Week Coalition, which is, in their words:

…an international alliance of diverse organizations joined by a commitment to increase awareness of the annual celebration of the freedom to read. The Coalition seeks to engage various communities and inspire participation in Banned Books Week through education, advocacy, and the creation of programming about the problem of book censorship.

Find out more about Banned Books Week:

 

International Women’s Day: Books

Check out our display of books for International Women’s Day, including titles relating to Feminism; justice,equality and freedom for women; the status of women and girls in Canada and around the world.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Freedom to Read Week

February 23 to 29 is Freedom to Read Week in Canada.  Come down to the School Library to find out more.  We have a display of books and other resources related to our freedom to read, our right to have access to information, and our responsibility to exercise those rights and freedoms as informed, free-thinking citizens.  We will will also feature online resources, so be sure to check out our site, tweedsmuirlibrary.wordpress.com.

Freedom to Read Week 2020