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MELBOURNE – With giant cutouts of the faces of state and local government officials mounted on poles, community activists gathered around a bonfire made of cardboard and tissue paper to light a bonfire Saturday morning across the street from Melbourne High School. Conducted a fake “book burning” at length.
“Hey, hey! Oh, oh! The fool is awake!” shouted Philip Stacek, former president of the Space Coast Progressive Alliance, wearing a shirt that read “Black Money.”
Other progressive activists dressed as Gov. Ron DeSantis, state Rep. Randy Fine, Liberty founder Tina Diskovich, mother of Brevard School Board President Matt Sosin and mother of Liberty member Michelle Beaver stood behind the fake fire. He shouted in favor of banning books.
Beside them, a group of people clamored for the freedom to keep books on the shelves, available for all to read.
It was all part of a demonstration organized by Foundation 451, a non-profit organization that provides banned and challenging books to Brevard students, and the Awaken Brevard Action Alliance, a non-partisan group that leads protests across the country. Gives growth. The mace burning took place at the four corners of Bulldog Boulevard and Babcock Street in Melbourne at 11am and attracted around 50 protesters.
The protest used a technique called guerilla theater, a performance method often performed in public spaces to bring attention to political or social issues through the use of humor. More than 100 titles were available for free to students at the rally, with parents asked to help by buying books.
He said the anti-book ban protests that have taken place in Florida over the past two years, with books being challenged or taken off the shelves entirely in school libraries across the state, were what Adam Tritt was doing. It came out in December.
“I said, we need Guerrilla Theater, we need something, that’s what we’re doing.” Props
“I want people to know this is happening,” Tritt said.
It’s a goal he shares with Fara Megaridge, one of the founders of the Awake Brevard Action Alliance, and Dan McDoo, the city councilor for West Melbourne. The trio hoped to bring awareness to the book ban and classroom restrictions across the country and state.
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Although plans for the protest were made in December, the protest came less than a week after the Manatee County School District told all middle school classes to remove or cover their classroom libraries until That the books are not reviewed under the new government standards. Teachers found to have inappropriate materials or books may face a third-degree felony charge.
In Brevard, the books have been challenged since March 2022, the first to raise concerns about reading material that may not be suitable for children. In December, the school board proposed a rule that nine books designated for formal review would be available only to students 18 or older, or students with written permission, while the review is in progress. The committee is completing its work.
With DeSantis recently allowing an Advanced Placement course in African-American history to be taught in high schools, Magarge said he was concerned about politicians’ banning of books and related actions to erase history. looks at
“We’re basically looking at DeSantis and everybody trying to take away history, black history, not just in elementary, high school and now colleges. And we’re just out there to make a stand about it,” she said.
Lisa Sprena lives in Melbourne Beach. Before that, she was a high school Italian teacher in New York for 32 years.
The lack of reading among children is troubling for her as a former teacher and as an American, she said.
“Fascism is not just showing up one day and saying ‘here I am’ and taking away all your rights,” she said. “It’s growing, it’s growing, and it’s starting … right now it’s right in front of us, and they’re starting with the books.”
Tritt, who has distributed more than 1,200 books since Foundation 451 started in March 2022, said he is determined to continue giving away banned books. He added that it is only issued to students who are 16 years old with an ID, or students accompanied by a parent.
“You want to ban books? I give them away,” he said. “You want me to shut up about this? Give me the megaphone. You don’t like this book? Can I have 50 copies of it, please? And we’ll give them to the kids with the parents’ permission.
Finch Walker is an education reporter in Florida Today. Contact Walker 321-290-4744 or [email protected] Twitter: @_Finchwakr