(left to right) Julia Klein, then associate editor at Braziller; ABFFE President Chris Finan; Publisher George Braziller; and Zachary Marcus, Northshire Bookstore's marketing director.
The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) recently received two generous financial contributions. Publisher George Braziller donated $5,000, which represents the profits from the sale of Cry Out: Poets Protest the War, a collection of the anti-war poems that were read at an event organized by the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, Vermont; and the Great Lakes Booksellers Association (GLBA) donated $2,500 to help develop ABFFE's kidSPEAK!, a Web site that educates middle school students about the importance of First Amendment rights.
"ABFFE is very grateful to George Braziller, the Northshire Bookstore, and GLBA," said Chris Finan, president of ABFFE. "Their support will make it possible for us to extend our activities on behalf of the First Amendment rights of both adults and kids."
In February 2003, Northshire organized and hosted the reading of anti-war poems in response to the White House's cancellation of a poetry reading out of a fear that poems critical of the war in Iraq would be read. More than 600 people attended the Northshire reading, held at the First Congregational Church of Manchester, which featured well-known authors such as Julia Alvarez, Jamaica Kincaid, Galway Kinnell, and Grace Paley reading both original poems and works by Langston Hughes, Pablo Neruda, and Walt Whitman. Braziller attended the reading and worked with Northshire's owner Ed Morrow, who edited the collection, to publish the poems in Cry Out. Braziller also offered to donate the profits of the book to a charity of Northshire's choice, and owners Ed and Barbara Morrow chose ABFFE. A check was presented to Finan on Tuesday, February 24, at Braziller's office in New York City.
"George Brazillers donation of $5,000 to ABFFE is noteworthy in several respects," Ed Morrow told BTW. "The cause is important, the need is real, and the amount of the donation is significant. It has added meaning, because behind the donation stands the example of underwriting and executing the publishing of Cry Out -- a contemporary proclamation following in the Common Sense tradition set by Tom Paine, which is all too rare an event in todays publishing environment. George sets a great example for all of us in the book world."
The Great Lakes Booksellers Association chose to present the $2,500 grant to ABFFE because the regional "appreciates what ABFFE does," explained executive director Jim Dana.
kidSPEAK!, (www.kidspeakonline.org), was launched to tap the tremendous interest that kids expressed in the attacks on the Harry Potter books. One of the major Harry Potter fights occurred in Zeeland, Michigan, in 2000. ABFFE worked with GLBA to persuade the schools superintendent to restore the Harry Potter books to the shelves of the school library.
Dana told BTW that GLBA had accumulated some money in its First Amendment fund and the association felt it had more than was needed to guard against potential First Amendment threats in the region. GLBA's board was looking to fund an organization involved in Free Speech education, and approached ABFFE to determine if the foundation had a particular financial need. ABFFE will use the GLBA grant to hire a grant writer to seek funding for an overhaul and expansion of the kidSPEAK! Web site.
"kidSPEAK! really helps teach young people about First Amendment issues when something happens that raises questions," said Dana. "We're happy to be able to help that project along." --Karen Schechner