Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week takes place during the last week of September . It is promoted by the American Library Association and Amnesty International to celebrate the freedom to read, and draw attention to banned and challenged books, and highlight persecuted individuals and remind people that the war for free expression still wages and the right to free expression is not easily won. It has been Held during the last week of September since 1982, and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them” and the requirement to keep material publicly available so that people can develop their own conclusions and opinions. The international campaign notes individuals “persecuted because of the writings that they produce, circulate or read.” Some of the events that occur during Banned Book Week are The Virtual Read-Out and The First Amendment Film Festival.

Banned Books Week was founded in 1982 by prominent First Amendment and library activist Judith Krug. Krug said that the Association of American Publishers contacted her with ideas to bring banned books “to the attention of the American public” after a “slew of books” had been banned that year. Krug relayed the information to American Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee and the first Banned Books Week six weeks after. Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA), the American Booksellers Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE), American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of American Publishers, National Association of College Stores, and endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

Since 2011, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) has designated the Wednesday of Banned Books Week as Banned Websites Awareness Day. Their goal is “to bring attention to the overly aggressive filtering of educational and social websites used by students and educators. In the AASL’s 2012 national longitudinal survey, 94% of respondents said their school used filtering software, with the majority of blocked websites relating to social networking (88%), IM or online chatting (74%), gaming (69%), and video services like YouTube (66%).The AASL’s position is that “the social aspect of learning” is important for students in the 21st century and that many schools go “beyond the requirements set forth by the Federal Communications Commission in its Child Internet Protection Act.

It has been held during the last week of September since 1982. Banned Books Week not only encourages readers to examine challenged literary works, but also promotes intellectual freedom in libraries, schools, and bookstores. Its goal is “to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society. Offering Banned Books Week kits, the ALA sells posters, buttons, and bookmarks to celebrate the event.

Many educational facilities also celebrate banned and challenged books during this week, often creating displays and programs around the awareness campaign. Additionally, various booksellers sponsor activities and events in support of Banned Books Week. Some retailers create window displays, while others go further, inviting authors of banned and challenged materials to come speak at their stores, as well as funding annual essay contests about freedom of expression. Educational facilities and booksellers also sponsor “read outs,” allowing participants to read aloud passages from their favorite banned books.

Amnesty International also celebrates Banned Books Week by directing attention to individuals “persecuted because of the writings that they produce, circulate or read. Its web site documents “focus cases” annually which show individuals who have been reportedly killed, incarcerated, or otherwise harassed by national authorities around the world, and urge people to “take action” to help it in partnership with its “Urgent Action Network” by contacting authorities regarding human rights violations. They also provide updates to cases from previous years, giving a history and current status of people who have been allegedly persecuted for their writings. The cases include individuals from Azerbaijan, China, Cuba, Egypt, Gambia, Iran, Myanmar, Russia, and Sri Lanka. The event has been praised for celebrating the freedom provided by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.Public events where banned and challenged books are read aloud are commonly held to celebrate the event. The international event held by Amnesty International has also been praised for reminding people about the price that some people pay for expressing controversial viewsHowever most of the books on the list were simply challenged (primarily by parents for violence, language, sexuality, or age-appropriateness), rather than actually removed

Camila Alire, a former president of the ALA, responded that Banned Books Week highlights “the hundreds of documented attempts to suppress access to information that take place each year across the U.S.,” and that “when the library is asked to restrict access for others, that does indeed reflect an attempt at censorship. the American Christian right organization, “Focus on the Family” regularly challenges Banned Books Week, claiming that books are not really banned, and that libraries’ policies are anti-family. They say that the American Library association Has perpetrated the ‘banned’ books lie for too long and that they attempts to intimidate and silence any parent, teacher or librarian who expresses concern about the age-appropriateness of sexually explicit or violent material for schoolchildren.” Focus on the Family say that “parents have every right and responsibility to object to their kids receiving sexually explicit and pro-gay literature without their permission, especially in a school setting” and criticized the event for its “promotion of homosexuality to…6- or 7-year-old children against their will. The anti-gay group Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) has similarly criticized the ALA for not using the event to champion ex-gay books or books opposing same-sex marriage in the United States. Some think that rhetoric surrounding Banned Books Week also conflates issues such as banning books in a public library versus a school library.

Phantom of the Opera

The Phantom of the Opera (Le Fantôme de l’Opéra), by Gaston Leroux, was first published as a serialization in Le Gaulois on 23 September 1909. It features a character named Christine Daaé who travels with her father, a famous fiddler, throughout Europe and plays folk and religious music. Who is brought to rural France by a patron, Professor Valerius after both her parents die. AS a child her father told her many stories about the “Angel of Music,” who is the personification of musical inspiration. Christine meets and befriends the young Raoul, Viscount of Chagny. One of Christine and Raoul’s favourite stories is one of Little Lotte, a girl who is visited by the Angel of Music and possesses a heavenly voice.

Christine is eventually is given a position in the chorus at the Paris Opera House (Palais Garnier) and begins hearing a beautiful, unearthly voice which sings to her and speaks to her. She believes this must be the Angel of Music and asks him if he is. The Voice agrees and offers to teach her “a little bit of heaven’s music.” The Voice, however, belons to Erik, a physically deformed and mentally disturbed musical genius who was one of the architects who took part in the construction of the opera. He is in love with Christine. He has also been extorting money from the Opera’s management for many years, and is also called the “Opera Ghost” by the denizens of the Opera.Christine triumphs at the gala on the night of the old managers’ retirement. Her old childhood friend Raoul hears her sing and recalls his love for her. He then hears the “Angel of Music” speaking to Christine. A time after the gala, the Paris Opera performs Faust, with the prima donna Carlotta playing the lead, against Erik’s wishes. In response to a refused surrender of Box Five to the Opera Ghost, Carlotta loses her voice and the grand chandelier plummets into the audience.

After the accident, Erik kidnaps Christine, brings her to his home in the catacombs beneath the opera House and reveals his true identity. He plans to keep her there for a few days, hoping she will come to love him. Christine begins to find herself attracted to her abductor, until she unmasks him and, beholds his face, which according to the book, resembles the face of a rotting corpse. Erik goes into a frenzy, stating she probably thinks his face is another mask, and whilst digging her fingers in to show it was really his face he shouts, “I am Don Juan Triumphant!” before crawling away, crying. Fearing that she will leave him, he decides to keep her with him forever, but when Christine requests release after two weeks, he agrees on condition that she wear his ring and be faithful to him.On the roof of the opera house, Christine tells Raoul that Erik abducted her. Raoul promises to take Christine away to a place where Erik can never find her. Raoul tells Christine he shall act on his promise the next day, to which Christine agrees. She, however, is pitiful for Erik and will not go until she has sung a song for him one last time.

The two leave togather but are unaware that Erik has been listening to their conversation and that he has become extremely jealous. In the weeks which have gone by, Erik has terrorised anyone who has stood in his way or in Christine’s career, including the managers.The following night, Erik kidnaps Christine during a production of Faust and tries to force Christine to marry him. He states that if she refuses, he will use explosives (which he has planted in the cellars) to destroy the entire opera house. Christine refuses, until she realizes that Erik learned of Raoul’s attempt to rescue her and trapped Raoul in a hot torture chamber (along with The Persian, an old acquaintance of Erik who was going to help Raoul). To save them and the people above, Christine agrees to marry Erik, who then tries to clobber Raoul and The Persian for good…

Ray Charles

American Rhythm and blues legend Ray Charles was Born September 23, 1930. His musical curiosity was first sparked when he heard boogie woogie played on an old upright piano. Charles started to lose his sight at the age of five & went completely blind by the age of seven, apparently due to glaucoma. He attended school at the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind in St. Augustine from 1937 to 1945,where he developed his musical talent. During this time he performed on WFOY radio in St. Augustine. In school, Charles was taught only classical music, but wanted to play the jazz and blues. While at school, he became the school’s premier musician.Charles was 15 When his mother died. He didn’t return to school, preferring instead, to play the piano for bands at the Ritz Theatre in LaVilla, earning $4 a night. He also played with a southern band called The Florida Playboys. This is where he began his habit of always wearing sunglasses, made by designer Billy Stickles. Charles had always played for other people, but he wanted his own band, so He decided to leave Florida and moved to Seattle in 1947 (where he first met and befriended a 14-year-old Quincy Jones, and soon started recording, first for the Down Beat label as the Maxin Trio with guitarist G.D. McKee and bassist Milton Garrett.

By fusing elements of rhythm and blues, gospel, and blues styles into his early recordings he became a pioneer in the genre of soul music and achieved his first hit with “Confession Blues” in 1949 and joined Swing Time Records where he recorded two more R&B hits, “Baby, Let Me Hold Your Hand” in 1951 and “Kissa Me Baby”in 1952. In early 1953 . Charles began recording jump blues and boogie-woogie style recordings as well as slower blues ballads where he continued to show the vocal influences of Nat “King” Cole and Charles Brown. “Mess Around” became Charles’ first Atlantic hit in 1953 and he later had hits the following year with “It Should Have Been Me” and “Don’t You Know”. He also recorded the songs, “Midnight Hour” and “Sinner’s Prayer”. Late in 1954, Charles recorded his own composition, “I Got a Woman”, and the song became Charles’ first number-one R&B hit in 1955 and brought him to national prominence. The elements of “I Got a Woman” included a mixture of gospel, jazz and blues elements that would later prove to be seminal in the development of rock ‘n’ roll and soul music. He repeated this pattern throughout 1955 continuing through 1958 with records such as “This Little Girl of Mine”, “Drown in My Own Tears”, “Lonely Avenue”, “A Fool For You” and “The Night Time (Is the Right Time)”.Charles also recorded instrumental jazz albums such as 1957′s The Great Ray Charles. During this time, Charles also worked with jazz vibraphonist Milt Jackson, releasing Soul Brothers in 1958 and Soul Meeting in 1961 and reached the pinnacle of his success at Atlantic with the release of “What’d I Say”. Later in 1959, and released his first country song, a cover of Hank Snow’s “Movin’ On”, and had recorded three more albums for the label including a jazz record (later released in 1961 as The Genius After Hours), a blues record (released in 1961 as The Genius Sings the Blues) and a traditional pop/big band record (The Genius of Ray Charles).

In 1960 Charles received national acclaim and a Grammy Award for the Sid Feller- produced “Georgia on My Mind”, and also earned another Grammy for the follow-up “Hit the Road Jack”, and became one of the few black artists to crossover into mainstream pop. The 1962 album, Modern Sounds in Country and western Music and its sequel Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Vol. 2, also helped to bring country into the mainstream of music. He also had major pop hits in 1963 with “Busted” (US No. 4) and Take These Chains From My Heart. In 1965, Charles’ was arrested for a third time for heroin and After spending a year on parole, Charles reemerged on the charts in 1966 with a series of hits including “I Don’t Need No Doctor” , “Let’s Go Get Stoned”, “Crying Time” and “Here We Go Again”. However, Charles’ renewed chart success, proved to be short lived and by the late 1960s his music was rarely played on radio stations, although Charles’ 1972 album, Message from the People, was a hit and included his unique gospel- influenced version of “America the Beautiful” and His 1975 recording of Stevie Wonder’s hit, “Living for the City” later helped Charles win another Grammy.In 1977, he recorded the album, True to Life and In April 1979, Charles’ version of “Georgia On My Mind” was proclaimed the state song of Georgia and An emotional Charles performed the song on the floor of the state legislature. During the 1980′s Charles recorded a string of country albums and began having a string of country hits often with duet singers such as George Jones, Chet Atkins, B.J. Thomas, Mickey Gilley, Hank Williams, Jr. and lifelong friend Willie Nelson, for which he recorded the No. 1 country duet, “Seven Spanish Angels”.

He also made a return on the R&B charts with a cover of The Brothers Johnson’s “I’ll Be Good to You”, in collaboration with his lifelong buddy Quincy Jones and singer Chaka Khan, which hit number-one on the R&B charts in 1990 and won Charles and Khan a Grammy. Charles returned on the pop charts in another duet, with singer Billy Joel on the song, “Baby Grand” and in 1989, recorded a cover of the Southern All Stars’ “Itoshi no Ellie”, releasing it as “Ellie My Love”. Charles’ 1993 album, My World also became his first album in some time to reach the Billboard 200 and his cover of Leon Russell’s “A Song for You” gave him a charted hit on the adult contemporary chart as well as his twelfth and final Grammy he would receive in his lifetime. In 1980, he also made a cameo on the film, The Blues Brothers.Charles’ version of “Night Time is the Right Time” was also played during the popular “Cosby Show” episode, “Happy Anniversary” and In 1985, he appeared among a slew of other popular musicians in the USA for Africa charity recording, “We Are the World”. Charles also appeared at two Presidential inaugurations in his lifetime. In 1985, he performed for Ronald Reagan’s second inauguration, and in 1993 for Bill Clinton’s first. In 2003, Ray Charles also headlined the White House Correspondents Dinner in Washington, D.C. where the President, First Lady, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice attended. In 2003 Charles performed “Georgia On My Mind” and “America the Beautiful” at a televised annual electronic media journalist banquet held in Washington, D.C. His final public appearance came on April 30, 2004, at the dedication of his music studio in Los Angeles.

Ray Charles sadly died 10 June 2004 as a result of liver failure/hepatitis C at his home at the age of 73 years old. His final album, Genius Loves Company, was released two months after his death, consists of duets with various admirers and contemporaries: B.B. King, Van Morrison, Willie Nelson, James Taylor, Gladys Knight, Michael McDonald, Natalie Cole, Elton John, Bonnie Raitt, Diana Krall, Norah Jones, and Johnny Mathis. The album won eight Grammy Awards, including five for Ray Charles for Best Pop Vocal Album, Album of the Year, Record of the Year and Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for “Here We Go Again” with Norah Jones, and Best Gospel Performance for “Heaven Help Us All” with Gladys Knight; he also received nods for his duets with Elton John and B.B. King. The album included a version of Harold Arlen’s “Over the Rainbow”, sung as a duet by Charles and Johnny Mathis; this record was played at his memorial service. Two more posthumous albums, Genius & Friends and Ray Sings, Basie Swings, were released. Genius & Friends consisted of duets recorded from 1997 to 2005 with his choice of artists. Ray Sings, Basie Swings consists of archived vocals of Ray Charles from live mid-1970s performances added to new instrumental tracks specially recorded by the contemporary Count Basie Orchestra and other musicians. Charles’s vocals recorded from the concert mixing board were added to new accompaniments to create a “fantasy concert” recording. The late great Frank Sinatra called Charles “the only true genius in show business” and Rolling Stone ranked Charles number ten on their list of “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” in 2004, and number two on their November 2008 list of “100 Greatest Singers of All Time”.

Harvest Festival

A harvest festival is an annual celebration that occurs around the time of the main harvest of a given region. In Britain Harvest festival is traditionally held on the Sunday near or of the Harvest Moon. This is the full Moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox (22 or 23 September). Harvest festivals typically feature feasting, both family and public, with foods that are drawn from crops that come to maturity around the time of the festival. Ample food and freedom from the necessity to work in the fields are two central features of harvest festivals: eating, merriment, contests, music and romance are common features of harvest festivals around the world.

In Britain, thanks have been given for successful harvests since pagan times. The celebrations on this day usually include singing hymns, praying, and decorating churches with baskets of fruit and food in the festival known as Harvest Festival, Harvest Home, Harvest Thanksgiving or Harvest Festival of Thanksgiving. In British and English-Caribbean churches, chapels and schools, and some Canadian churches, people bring in produce from the garden, the allotment or farm. The food is often distributed among the poor and senior citizens of the local community, or used to raise funds for the church, or charity. Harvest is from the Old English word hærfest, meaning “autumn”. It then came to refer to the season for reaping and gathering grain and other grown products. The full moon nearest the autumnal equinox is called the harvest moon. Therefore, coinciding with ancient tradition, harvest festivals are traditionally held on or near the Sunday of the harvest moon.
An early harvest festival used to be celebrated at the beginning of the harvest season on 1 August and was called Lammas, meaning ‘loaf Mass’. The Latin prayer to hallow the bread is given in the Durham Ritual. Farmers made loaves of bread from the fresh wheat crop. These were given to the local church as the Communion bread during a special service thanking God for the harvest.

By the sixteenth century a number of customs seem to have been firmly established around the gathering of the final harvest. They include the reapers accompanying a fully laden cart; a tradition of shouting “Hooky, hooky”; and one of the foremost reapers dressing extravagantly, acting as ‘lord’ of the harvest and asking for money from the onlookers. A play by Thomas Nashe, Summer’s Last Will and Testament, contains a scene which demonstrates several of these features. There is a character personifying harvest who comes on stage attended by men dressed as reapers; he refers to himself as their “master” and ends the scene by begging the audience for a “largesse”. Early English settlers took the idea of harvest thanksgiving to North America. The most famous one is the harvest Thanksgiving held by the Pilgrims in 1621.

Nowadays the festival is held at the end of harvest, which varies in different parts of Britain. Sometimes neighbouring churches will set the Harvest Festival on different Sundays so that people can attend each other’s thanksgivings. Until the 20th century most farmers celebrated the end of the harvest with a big meal called the harvest supper, to which all who had helped in the harvest were invited. It was sometimes known as a “Mell-supper”, after the last patch of corn or wheat standing in the fields which was known as the “Mell” or “Neck”. Cutting it signified the end of the work of harvest and the beginning of the feast. There seems to have been a feeling that it was bad luck to be the person to cut the last stand of corn. The farmer and his workers would race against the harvesters on other farms to be first to complete the harvest, shouting to announce they had finished. In some counties the last stand of corn would be cut by the workers throwing their sickles at it until it was all down, in others the reapers would take it in turns to be blindfolded and sweep a scythe to and fro until all of the Mell was cut down.

Some churches and villages still have a Harvest Supper. The modern British tradition of celebrating Harvest Festival in churches began in 1843, when the Reverend Robert Hawker invited parishioners to a special thanksgiving service at his church at Morwenstow in Cornwall. Victorian hymns such as We plough the fields and scatter, Come, ye thankful people, come and All things bright and beautiful but also Dutch and German harvest hymns in translation helped popularise his idea of harvest festival, and spread the annual custom of decorating churches with home-grown produce for the Harvest Festival service. On 8 September 1854 the Revd Dr William Beal, Rector of Brooke, Norfolk, held a Harvest Festival aimed at ending what he saw as disgraceful scenes at the end of harvest, and went on to promote ‘harvest homes’ in other Norfolk villages. Another early adopter of the custom as an organised part of the Church of England calendar was Rev Piers Claughton at Elton, Huntingdonshire in or about 1854

As British people have come to rely less heavily on home-grown produce, there has been a shift in emphasis in many Harvest Festival celebrations. Increasingly, churches have linked Harvest with an awareness of and concern for people in the developing world for whom growing crops of sufficient quality and quantity remains a struggle. Development and Relief organisations often produce resources for use in churches at harvest time which promote their own concerns for those in need across the globe.

In the early days, there were ceremonies and rituals at the beginning as well as at the end of the harvest. Their origins can be traced to “the animistic belief in the corn, grain spirit or corn mother.” Some farmers believed that a spirit resided in the last sheaf of grain to be harvested. To chase out the spirit, they beat the grain to the ground. Elsewhere they wove some blades of the cereal into a “corn dolly” that they kept safe for “luck” until seed-sowing the following year. Then they ploughed the ears of grain back into the soil in hopes that this would bless the new crop.A corn dolly was also made from the last sheaf of corn harvested. The corn dolly often had a place of honour at the banquet table, and was kept until the following spring.

In Cornwall, the ceremony of Crying The Neck was practiced. Today it is still re-enacted annually by The Old Cornwall Society.The horse, bringing the last cart load, was decorated with garlands of flowers and colourful ribbons. Then A magnificent Harvest feast was held at the farmer’s house and games played to celebrate the end of the harvest. Harvest is also celebrated by many other people. It is widely looked at in schools, and focused on in a few churches, especially country churches where the people are more closely tied to the land. Urban churches are less likely to celebrate the harvest, since they are not close to the land and many consider celebrating the harvest a carryover from paganism. Harvest is associated with fruit and vegetables that are gathered yearly to provide food to last people through the winter, for which they give thanks. The Harvest Festival is held to celebrate that the hard work of the harvest is over for another year.

In the United States, In North America, Canada and the US each have their own Thanksgiving celebrations in October and November. During which many churches bring in food from the garden or farm in order to celebrate the harvest. The festival is set for a specific day and has become a national holiday known as Thanksgiving which falls on the fourth Thursday in November in the US and second Monday Of October, in Canada. It has also become a national secular holiday with religious origins, but in Britain it is both a Church festival giving thanks to God for the harvest and a more secular festival remembered in schools.

Harvest festivals in Asia include the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節), one of the most widely spread harvest festivals in the world. In Iran Mehrgan was celebrated in an extravagant style at Persepolis. Not only was it the time for harvest, but it was also the time when the taxes were collected. Visitors from different parts of the Persian Empire brought gifts for the king all contributing to a lively festival. In India, Makar Sankranti, Thai Pongal, Uttarayana, Lohri, and Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu in January, Holi in February–March, Vaisakhi in April and Onam in August–September are a few important harvest festivals.