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Jay-Z Finances Anti-Book Ban Initiatives In New York

Roc Nation’s Jay-Z and the Chief Executive Officer of the New England Patriots, Robert Kraft, have launched a series of programs to combat the rising prevalence of book-banning. TMZ Hip Hop reported that their efforts focus on literary teachings about the Holocaust, gender equality, LGBTQIA+ history, and slavery. 

The July 14 report revealed that Kraft and Jay have donated nearly $1 million to offer completely pro bono legal representation to teachers, librarians, and other academics who are the victims of state policies to ban books. Kraft’s donations come mainly through his existing social justice organizations, specifically the Shawn Carter Foundation and the Foundation to Combat Anti-Semitism. 

According to statistics obtained by the American Library Association, there have been more than 1,000 demands to ban and restrict books in the past year — many of those requests center around silencing the stories of marginalized ethnic, sexual, and religious communities. 

On top of the financial donations made by Kraft and Jay, the pair have also set up the beginnings of programs that will allow minority students to receive grants and scholarships to support their artistic works. The hope is that their pieces can be turned into consumable works like movies, books, and art to diversify the scene further.

Finally, the sports juggernaut and the rapper have signed off on a plan to reprint banned books and circulate them in nearby learning centers.

The outlet explained that the Brooklyn Public Library in New York is the brick-and-mortar center for their programs. The first of many released campaigns, “Books Unbanned,” will provide books of all kinds to kids for free.

The campaign’s website reads, Brooklyn Public Library joins those fighting for the rights of teens nationwide to read what they like, discover themselves, and form their own opinions. Inspired by the American Library Association’s Freedom to Read Statement, BPL’s Books Unbanned initiative is a response to an increasingly coordinated and effective effort to remove books tackling a wide range of topics from library shelves.”

The website allows people to quickly get involved, request books, donate to the cause, and report a library needing additional resources.