This coming Saturday, the Freedom to Read Foundation will be hosting a reception in Salt Lake City to celebrate the legacy of Emily Wheelock Reed, a librarian who faced tremendous adversity and yet rose above it to defend the freedom to read - and basic human rights.
Joining us will be special guests:
Leah Farrell, Staff Attorney, ACLU of Utah
Kenneth Jones, playwright, Alabama Story
Patricia Polacco, author, In Our Mothers' House (via Skype)
Alberta Comer, Dean of University Libraries, University of Utah
The reception will be part of the #FTRF45 series of events commemorating the 45th anniversary of the Freedom to Read Foundation - of which Reed was a charter member. In fact, the event will take place on the exact 45th anniversary of the first FTRF Board Meeting, at the 1970 American Library Association Midwinter Meeting in Chicago.
This event is being held in conjunction with the middle weekend of Alabama Story, a new play by Jones, that dramatizes the confrontation between Reed and segregationist legislators in late-1950s Alabama. The play, which has received great reviews (see here and here), puts Reed's story in the context of its times, and asks many questions that are still with us today. You can learn more about Jones' vision in this great podcast by KUER's RadioWest.
In addition to celebrating Reed (who was the recipient of the FTRF Roll of Honor Award in 2000), the reception will highlight work FTRF has done in Utah over the years in protecting free speech, including supporting Jeanne Layton in the 1980s and more recently, librarians in the Davis County Public Schools defending access to In Our Mothers' House.
Tickets are available at www.ftrf.org/event/FTRF45_SLC. Tickets are $25 for the general public, and $20 for FTRF members, Utah Library Association members, and anyone with a ticket to either of the two January 17 performances of Alabama Story. For an additional donation, attendees can reserve a signed copy of In Our Mothers' House and copies of The Rabbits' Wedding, one of the books at the center of the controversy depicted in the play.
Many thanks to the University of Utah Libraries, Quinney Law Library, and the Utah Library Association for their support of this event!
Bonus: Here's Toby Graham, the librarian who brought Reed's story to the attention of FTRF's Roll of Honor Committee, in a video he created that will be shown at the reception.