Sally O’Dowd is the author of Creativity Is Risky: Free Speech in a Charlie Hebdo World. This is the first of a two-part series originally published in Literati Magazine.

Writers, Activists and Broadway Kids Gather
at New York Public Library to Defend Free Speech

Watching today’s inauguration of Donald Trump, I protest as a writer and staunch defender of free speech: Partnering with a transatlanic team, I published Creativity Is Risky: Free Speech in a Charlie Hebdo World, a multimedia e-zine exploring issues ranging from satire’s democratic purpose to government surveillance.

As such, I was proud to attend the June 15, 2017, PEN America rally at the New York Public Library, one of 50 such rallies across the country under the banner of Writers Resist. PEN America is the largest chapter of PEN International, the oldest literary human rights organization in the world.

Coinciding with the birthday of civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr., the event featured readings and performances by some of the biggest names in arts and literature. Former U.S. Poets Laureate Rita Dove and Robert Pinsky, and award-winning authors including Masha Gessen, Laurie Anderson, Rosanne Cash, Jeff Eugenides, and Amy Goodman of Democracy Now read from the U.S. Constitution, Dr. King’s sermons, George Orwell’s 1984, the Federalist Papers, and other selections embodying democratic ideals.

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