Acacia O'Connor

About Acacia O'Connor

Acacia works on youth free expression issues at NCAC and is coordinator of the Kids' Right to Read Project. Her work at NCAC combines many of her passions, including but not limited to: literature, libraries, language and freedom of speech. Also an Italian translator, Acacia received her Master's degree in Literary Translation Studies from the University of Rochester. Prior to pursuing her MA, she spent a year in Southern Italy teaching English literature and American culture through a Fulbright fellowship. She received her BA from Vassar College with a double major in English and Italian.

Panel of Video Game Experts Push Beyond the Negative Hype

By |2016-01-14T14:57:00-05:00April 1st, 2014|Blog|

In what ways are video games like comic books, or early cartoons? What educational purposes do they serve? What do they teach us about ourselves? Can designing and playing video games make us better people? NCAC invited a panel of gaming designers and educators to open up these questions during our Video Games in the Crosshairs film screening this past [...]

Help Fight Internet Censorship and Filtering in Libraries on 404 Day

By |2020-01-02T15:07:27-05:00March 27th, 2014|Blog|

Mark your calendars! On April 4th NCAC will be celebrating 404 Day, a day dedicated to the issue of internet censorship in public schools and libraries. Along with 404 Day partners the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the MIT Center for Civic Media, we are spreading the word and calling on You to share your stories!

Celebrating Sunshine Week with FOIA Request Treasures

By |2020-01-03T14:43:22-05:00March 19th, 2014|Blog|

This week is Sunshine week, a nation-wide celebration of open access in government. Sunshine week was started in 2002 by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors in response to proposed legislation that would have severely undermined the state's open records law. We at NCAC are frequent users of state records requests, particularly to bolster our work on individual censorship cases. [...]

‘A Virtual Reality,’ 2013 Film Contest 2nd Place Winner

By |2019-03-19T13:48:34-04:00February 28th, 2014|Videos|

Our second place winner is “A Virtual Reality,” by Peter Ackerman of Augusta, Maine. Ackerman interviews friends, video game enthusiasts and a psychologist, in a lively documentary exploring gaming and its effect on gamers. A paintball excursion provides a unique backdrop to investigate how gamers separate virtual reality from violence in the real world. “It’s appealing to people it’s just [...]

‘Initial Testing,’ 2013 Film Contest 3rd Place Winner

By |2019-03-19T13:49:39-04:00February 28th, 2014|Videos|

Austin Guerrero of Gresham, OR placed third with his dramatic action thriller “Initial Testing," in which a night playing video games veers into the unknown, in the tradition of The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. After complaining that he’s bored with “easy” shooter games, a friend gives Grant a challenge like he’s never imagined. What will Grant do when the [...]

“Future Warfare III” Wins 2013 Youth Film Contest

By |2019-03-19T13:51:25-04:00February 28th, 2014|Videos|

The winner of this year’s Youth Free Expression Project Film Contest, addressing the theme Video Games in the Crosshairs, is “Future Warfare III” by Ani Akpan of the Bronx, NY. Using dazzling visual effects, Akpan thrusts the viewer into a near-future society where gaming approaches virtual reality and Big Brother takes a hard line stance, spurring gamers to speak back. [...]

Victory! ‘House of the Spirits’ Stays in Watauga County Classrooms

By |2020-01-03T14:37:46-05:00February 27th, 2014|Incidents|

After close to six months of community debate, freedom to read advocates in Boone, North Carolina are breathing a sigh of relief. Last night, a 3-2 school board vote held that Isabel Allende's The House of the Spirits could be taught again in Watauga County Schools.

Happy Birthday to the Wonderful, the Fabulous, the Fantastic – JUDY BLUME!

By |2016-01-14T11:41:00-05:00February 12th, 2014|Blog|

People, super serious question: what ever would we do without Judy Blume? Judy's books helped many of us navigate the troubled seas of adulthood (you former young ladies of the world know what I'm talking about). They entertained us, emboldened us, held our hands and assured us we were not alone. And her brave and tireless advocacy on behalf of [...]

Yet Another Challenge to Sherman Alexie’s ‘Absolutely True Diary’ in Sweet Home, OR

By |2020-01-03T14:37:48-05:00February 11th, 2014|Incidents|

NCAC's Kids' Right to Read Project activated to advise a reconsideration committee in Sweet Home, OR to retain the use of Alexie's popular young adult novel in 8th grade classrooms. Parents and other citizens whose children do not even attend Sweet Home Public Schools have complained about the book's content. Before the book was taught, teachers in Sweet Home Middle [...]

Did you catch it? NCAC Allies Shine in Al Jazeera Conversation About Book Censorship

By |2019-03-15T16:43:54-04:00January 16th, 2014|Blog|

Last night, Al Jazeera America's The Stream dedicated its show to a topic near and dear to NCAC's work and hearts: book challenges and bans in the U.S. Joining the show was author Carolyn Mackler, whose works NCAC has defended throughout the years, as well as partners-in-activism Isaiah Zukowski and Lynn Bruno. Isaiah spoke out as a high school senior when [...]

Court of Appeals Ruling Kills Net Neutrality

By |2020-01-03T14:08:22-05:00January 14th, 2014|Blog|

In a 2-1 ruling today, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals effectively ended net neutrality, striking down the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order. The FCC's order was intended to keep broadband providers from interfering with traffic on the Web. The issue of who should regulate internet access has been the subject of much debate in the last decade. NCAC believes net neutrality allows [...]

Why is this artist’s work “too controversial” for an art center exhibition?

By |2019-03-15T17:47:16-04:00January 9th, 2014|Blog|

Paul Carter/The Register-Guard As a dues-paying member of the Emerald Art Center in Springfield, OR, Linda Cunningham prepared a piece of work for the monthly members' show. The "pastoral" works of other members were accepted without incident, but Cunningham's three-dimensional piece was deemed "too controversial" and rejected by the executive board of the Art Center, according to The [...]

NCAC and Coalition Members File Briefs Defending Student Speech

By |2020-01-03T14:08:18-05:00December 18th, 2013|Blog|

On Monday, NCAC joined with other organizations on an friend of the court brief (.pdf) to the U.S.  Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Barnes v. Zaccari, an important case involving the speech rights of college students. The case began in 2007, when Hayden Barnes was expelled from Valdosta State University in Georgia over his vocal criticism of [...]

Kids’ Right to Read Top Banned Books of 2013…Help Support Our Fight!

By |2020-01-05T23:15:57-05:00December 2nd, 2013|Blog|

Here they are: KRRP's Top Victories of 2013. We are proud of our work in successfully battling these book challenges, but this effort can only continue with your continued support of the project. If you love these books, support us in this fight for the freedom to read today. [youtube=] The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky /  Glen Ellyn, [...]

Talks Cancelled for YA Authors Meg Medina and Rainbow Rowell

By |2020-01-03T14:08:09-05:00September 13th, 2013|Blog|

For whatever reason, it sometimes seems that censorship battles crop up in pairs or groups of three. In May 2012, for example, the Kids' Right to Read Project began battling the removal of Todd Parr's The Family Book and other GLSEN materials in Erie, PA because they "advocated" for "non-traditional" families and lifestyles. Just days later, we learned that Davis County [...]

Professors and Advocates Call Out Former Gov. Mitch Daniels for Egregious Censorship Attempts

By |2020-01-03T14:07:26-05:00July 25th, 2013|Blog|

For those of you who haven't yet heard, the Associated Press recently revealed that Mitch Daniels, now President of Purdue University, attempted to ban the works of acclaimed historian Howard Zinn from classrooms in Indiana during his tenure as that state's governor. In 2010, after Howard Zinn's passing, Daniels (seen here in an artist's rendering) wrote an e-mail to the [...]

Read ‘Em and Weep: Quotes from a Real, Live Book Censorship Debate over Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye”

By |2020-01-03T14:07:26-05:00July 17th, 2013|Blog|

The following may inspire tears of pride and/or rage, depending on your disposition. They are quotes from two petitions: one on each side of a debate over the use of Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and other texts in Adams County, Colorado. Bailey Cross, a student at Legacy High School, is combatting censorship in her district in Colorado [...]

Blast from the Past: Read Original News Articles from the Historic Island Trees Book Banning Case

By |2020-01-03T14:07:08-05:00June 25th, 2013|Blog|

Thirty-one years ago today, the Supreme Court upheld students rights to read in the Island Trees School district in Long Island. The 5-4 decision of Board of Education vs. Pico found that the school board violated the First Amendment when they removed certain books from junior high and high school libraries after parents complained they were “objectionable.” Check out some [...]

Kudos to the Kids Right to Read Advocates of Glen Ellyn!

By |2020-01-03T14:07:02-05:00June 10th, 2013|Blog|

--UPDATE-- Last night the board voted 6-1 to keep the book. They will be instating new policies that will hopefully balance parental concerns with students rights and the professional judgments of teachers. --------------------------------------------- The students, teachers, parents and citizens on the ground in Glen Ellyn have been working hard to spread the word about tonight's board vote there to (hopefully) [...]

Judy Blume Fix? Watch Rachel Dratch, Martha Plimpton Read “Deenie”

By |2016-01-14T12:14:38-05:00May 21st, 2013|Blog|

We know you're gearing up for the June 7 release of Tiger Eyes, the first-ever Judy Blume film adaptation. In the meantime, we'd like to share this charming reading of Deenie featuring Rachel Dratch, Martha Plimpton, Junot Diaz, Amy Sohn, and Elna Baker. The video was taken at NCAC's 35th Anniversary Benefit in 2009.

Judy Blume’s Film Debut: “Tiger Eyes” Hits the Big Screen June 7

By |2020-01-06T00:07:03-05:00May 14th, 2013|Blog|

Maybe it was Forever. Perhaps it was Are you there God, it's Me, Margaret? It could have been Deenie or even Tiger Eyes. Chances are that if you went through puberty since the 1970s, you learned something from one of Judy Blume's real, relatable and enduring books. And now, for the first time ever, one of those works is being made into a feature film...and [...]

Anne Frank (and all her parts) Will Stay in Northville Schools

By |2020-01-03T14:33:44-05:00May 14th, 2013|Blog|

A reconsideration committee in Northville, Michigan, voted to retain Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl after it was challenged by a mother of a middle schooler who called the book "pornographic." In a letter to the community, Assistant Superintendent Bob Behnke wrote that “the committee felt strongly that a decision to remove the use of ‘Anne Frank: The Diary of a [...]

Ta-Ta to Texas Ethnic Studies Bills, May We Never Meet Again

By |2019-03-07T21:45:55-05:00May 13th, 2013|Blog|

Librotraficantes and their allies are dancing over the legislative grave of Texas HB1938, which sought to limit which courses university students could take to fulfill state history requirements. After impressive advocacy efforts on the part of Tony Diaz and Los Librotraficantes, the bill is indefinitely stalled in the Calendars committee. HB1938 and its Senate counterpart, SB1128, were the more subtle [...]

School Counselor Who Defended ‘Family Book’ Honored by GLSEN

By |2020-01-02T15:07:14-05:00May 8th, 2013|Blog|

In honor of National Teachers Appreciation Day, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) has honored Matt Beck, a school counselor in Erie, Illinois, with its 2013 Educator of the Year Award. Matt showed impressive courage and resolve in the face of censorship of LGBTQ materials, including Todd Parr's The Family Book, in his school in Erie in the [...]

Fla. Teens Write on the Dangers of Book-Burning

By |2019-03-15T17:23:54-04:00April 30th, 2013|Blog|

For the last few months, the West Palm Beach Library Foundation in Florida has been hosting the travelling exhibition Banned and Burned: Literary Censorship and the Loss of Freedom from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. In addition, the Library asked students in the area to make their voices heard in their first-ever essay contest. The theme? Literary censorship. The Library Foundation recently [...]

Farewell, Edward de Grazia

By |2020-01-03T14:06:53-05:00April 29th, 2013|Blog|

Edward de Grazia, a lawyer, professor, playwright and staunch defender of free speech died on April 11 at the age of 86. de Grazia represented famed banned writers Arthur Miller, William S. Burroughs, and Normal Mailer among others and served as counsel on important cases which ultimately led the Supreme Court to loosen restrictions on obscenity. The obscene, Mr. de Grazia [...]

Texas Day of Action 4/26: Fight for Ethnic Studies!

By |2020-01-06T00:07:30-05:00April 24th, 2013|Blog|

Right now the Texas state legislature is considering a bill that would require college students to take the equivalent of two semesters of "courses providing a comprehensive survey in American History" in order to graduate. One of the two semesters could be Texan History. The new bill is evidently a "reinforcement" of a 1971 law mandating students take six hours of [...]

8th Grade Student Suspended and Arrested for Apparel at School (And no, this is not 1965)

By |2020-01-06T00:07:03-05:00April 23rd, 2013|Blog|

Logan Middle School student Jared Marcum took a trip to the courthouse after a confrontation over his t-shirt last week. The t-shirt boasted the National Rifle Association's logo and the words "Know Your Rights" over an image of a hunting rifle. The student was approached by a teacher in the middle of the school day who apparently asked him to [...]

Protests After Alaska School Censors Student Art Show

By |2020-01-03T14:06:48-05:00April 17th, 2013|Blog|

"Art is a way to speak our minds!!!" one hand-drawn sign reads. "IB Art Matters!" reads another. These signs hang on the art display boards where art, done by Palmer High School's IB Art students, once hung. In response to recent censorship by the High School, students have made their voice heard in defense of their work and in support [...]

Marjane Satrapi to CPS: ‘Find your Brain Again. Stop Lying’

By |2016-01-14T12:18:10-05:00April 9th, 2013|Blog|

Khury Petersen-Smith of caught up with Persepolis author Marjane Satrapi to talk about the shady restrictions being placed on the teaching of her book in Chicago. Again, Satrapi showed her insight and savvy and aptly expressed the utter confusion and dismay we are all feeling: What is so horrible in my book that you need guidance? Am I inviting people to [...]

Tatted: Art on the Body is Protected Expression

By |2019-03-15T17:23:19-04:00April 5th, 2013|Blog|

Did you know that in some states, localities have health and safety ordinances prohibiting tattoos and tattooing? You may be surprised to know that even New York City, birthplace of the modern tattoo -- had a ban for 36 years. Now that practically anyone--from our own mothers to elementary school teachers--is likely to have one, bans like these seem like [...]

Too Soon or Censorship? “The Librarian of Basra” & Third Graders

By |2020-01-03T14:06:47-05:00April 1st, 2013|Blog|

This morning's news feeds boasted two stories that grabbed our attention, in particular because they dovetail so perfectly with the recent controversy in Chicago Public Schools surrounding Persepolis.  One is about drama that has ensued after the California DOE decided to include more gay-themed books in its school curricula. This brings up vital curricular and cultural issues, but for the purposes [...]

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