‘That’s really dangerous’: Newly formed Massachusetts group shipping banned books to Florida

Over the past couple of years, thousands of books have been banned in schools and libraries across the country.

40% of the titles taken off the shelves were in Florida.

Now a Boston-based group called Banned Books USA is launching an effort to help Floridians get access to classics like the “The Diary of Anne Frank” for free. All the recipient needs to do is provide an address in Florida and cover the cost of shipping.

Some parental rights group that fought mask mandates in public schools turned their energy to banning books as the pandemic faded.

Protests in Florida highlight the political divide this has created.

Jen Cousins, a parent, said what the advocates of book restrictions are doing is “creating a false narrative, they want to go after the LGBTQ community, they want to go after the people of color community.”

Meghan Wright, a school board member in one Florida community, said “It’s not about banning books. It never has been. It’s making sure that it’s appropriate. It’s the same, like I wouldn’t tell a 10-year-old your banned from driving a car. No, you’re 10 years old, it’s not age appropriate for you to drive a car, yet.”

According to Pen America, 3,362 book bans were recorded this school year. That’s a 33% jump from the year before.

Bookstores across the country, like the Brookline Booksmith, have created displays to raise awareness about the potential dangers of book bans.

Pop star Pink recently donated 2,000 banned books when she toured Florida.

“It’s like really good books are being pulled off the shelves,” said Paul English, a Boston-based entrepreneur and social activist who is co-founder of Banned Books USA. “It’s just concerning to me and some other people to say, do we really want the government having this control over its citizens to tell us what to read and what not to read?”

Titles they’ve provided for free include works by African American author and Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison.

Others are about gender issues and sexual orientation.

“I think if people don’t know the history, history has a danger of repeating itself,” explained English. “We can go back to the days where there were a lot of restrictions on gays and Blacks, African Americans, and you know we shouldn’t be going backwards, we should be going forward.”

Boston 25 News made repeated requests to interview someone from Moms for Liberty, or to get a written statement. They would not provide either.

In an earlier interview with our sister station, WFTV-9 in Orlando, the organization’s co-founder Tiffany Justice said “These are our children, and we raise our children, and we don’t need the school district to raise our kids. What we do need the school district to do is teach our kids to read.”

English tells Boston 25 News that the group has already shipped a couple thousand books to Florida in their first few weeks.

They’re continuing to raise money and hope to expand to other states like Texas.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

Download the FREE Boston 25 News app for breaking news alerts.

Follow Boston 25 News on Facebook and Twitter. | Watch Boston 25 News NOW