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Free Speech in Schools: Interview With David Hudson

The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression is the bookseller's voice in the fight against censorship. Founded by the American Booksellers Association in 1990, ABFFE’s mission is to promote and protect the free exchange of ideas, particularly those contained in books, by opposing restrictions on the freedom of speech; issuing statements on significant free expression controversies; participating in legal cases involving First Amendment rights; collaborating with other groups with an interest in free speech; and providing education about the importance of free expression to booksellers, other members of the book industry, politicians, the press and the public.  

The ABFFE Book of the Month for September is Let the Students Speak! A History of the Fight for Free Expression in America's School by David L. Hudson. The ABFFE interviewed Hudson for their website

This week is Banned Books Week! The ABFFE is holding a benefit auction to help support the organization's efforts to protect the First Amendment Rights of young readers. Beacon Press is hosting a giveaway to raise awareness of Banned Books Week. Find out about other Banned Books Week activities here

4454ABFFE: How did you become interested in student free-speech rights? 
Hudson: Much of it comes from my daily work at the First Amendment Center. One of the best parts of my job is getting to travel to different middle and high schools and speak to students and teachers about First Amendment issues in the schools. My interest began even before my employment at the Center, as I had a personal experience with censorship in high school (being punished for "inappropriate" speech). 

ABFFE: What was something that surprised you in your research about the history of student expression? 
Hudson: I was surprised at the sheer number of early student speech cases. They are not often talked about, mentioned or even cited in most modern student-speech cases or secondary-source literature (with a few notable exceptions). The stories of Earl Wooster, Pearl Pugsley, Camilia Booth and other early student litigants are interesting to students - and hopefully will be interesting to readers of the book. 

Read the rest of the interview here. To read about other Book of the Month selections, click here.