International pop star Pink is teaming up with PEN America and local bookseller Books & Books to give away thousands of copies of banned books at her concerts in Florida this week, including one in Miami.
The 44-year-old singer, whose legal name is Alecia Beth Moore, will hand out over 2,000 books at the two Florida stops of her Trustfall Tour, Kaseya Center in Miami on Tuesday and Amerant Bank Arena in Sunrise on Wednesday.
“Books have held a special joy for me from the time I was a child, and that’s why I am unwilling to stand by and watch while books are banned by schools,” Pink said in a press release through PEN America, a nonprofit that advocates for freedom of expression. “It’s especially hateful to see authorities take aim at books about race and racism and against LGBTQ authors and those of color. We have made so many strides toward equality in this country and no one should want to see this progress reversed.”
Pink announced the partnership Sunday during an Instagram live where she was joined by PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel and author Amanda Gorman, the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history.
Historically a champion of social justice issues, Pink will give away copies of four books that have appeared in PEN America’s Index of Banned Books: “The Hill We Climb,” by Amanda Gorman; “Beloved,” by Toni Morrison; “The Family Book,” by Todd Parr, and a book from “Girls Who Code,” founded by Reshma Saujani.
Earlier this year, school officials in Miami-Dade County put Gorman’s book on a restricted list after a parent complained about it, citing “indirect hate messages.” Access to Morrison’s “Beloved” has been restricted in at least nine Florida districts, including Escambia and Clay counties.
The goals of the giveaway are to raise awareness and engage the public, said Jon Friedman, the director of free expression and education programs at PEN America, in an interview with the Herald.
“I think it’s important that people understand that the situation is not getting better. It only continues to worsen,” he said.
Across the state, Friedman said, he’s observed the chilling effect of recent state laws, which ultimately lead school districts to remove books. There is still some confusion about how to properly implement these laws and, he added, “amidst any ambiguity school districts are just removing books.”
More books were pulled from shelves in Florida public schools compared to any other state during the past school year, according to a PEN America report released in September.
From July 2022 to June 2023 PEN America recorded 3,362 instances of individual books banned nationally, affecting 1,557 titles.
In 33 districts in Florida — about half the state, including the five largest districts— more than 1,400 books were banned or restricted. These texts run the gamut from children’s picture books to young adult novels.
PEN America defines a “book ban” as “any action taken against a book based on its content, and as a result of parent or community challenges, administrative decisions, or in response to direct or threatened action by lawmakers or other governmental officials, that leads to a previously accessible book.”
During the Instagram live on Sunday, wearing a hot pink “i read banned books” T-shirt, Pink rattled off a list of books that have been banned nationally.
“I read these titles, and I think, ‘Oh my God, I’m so grateful for books,’” she said. “I would say to anyone out there listening: Any book you hear that’s being banned, please run out as fast as you can and get your hands on these books— because they’re amazing.”