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UIUC’s Ginsburg is 2020 ILA Intellectual Freedom Award Recipient

(via the Illinois Library Association)

The 2020 Illinois Library Association Intellectual Freedom Award is awarded to Rebecca Ginsburg. The award, presented by the ILA Intellectual Freedom Committee, recognizes an individual or group for outstanding contributions in defending intellectual freedom or the advancement of these principles. The award is sponsored by the Intellectual Freedom Fund and was established in 2007 in honor of Robert P. Doyle.

Rebecca Ginsburg is the Director of the Education Justice Project, or EJP, based at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. EJP offers education programs to individuals incarcerated at the Danville Correctional Center (DCC), a men’s medium-security state prison. In 2019, more than 200 books were removed from the EJP library at the DCC, including Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum, and The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. DuBois. The book removal was part of the Illinois Department of Corrections’ growing practice of restricting access to reading materials focusing on issues of race and prisons.

Ginsburg championed the fight to restore access to the books and raise awareness of prison censorship by creating the Freedom to Learn Campaign, a coalition of 67 organizations and hundreds of individuals. Her work culminated in a special legislative hearing that changed the terms of future book access inside prisons to protect incarcerated readers across the state. She did this knowing the high stakes for the EJP and her students. Thanks to Ginsburg’s advocacy, the books were returned to the EJP¬†library and the Illinois Department of Corrections developed new guidelines for prison libraries.

To view the full press release, please go here. A list of all the 2020 ILA award winners is available here.

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