Ben & Jerry's scoop truck with a rack of banned books alongside.

We Went On Tour With Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp To Give Away Banned Books in Florida

We’re on a mission to raise awareness about the harmful impacts of book bans! This month, we teamed up with Colin Kaepernick and Know Your Rights Camp to visit five cities across Florida, calling out regressive book bans and scooping up plenty of Colin Kaepernick’s Change The Whirled Non-Dairy.

What’s The Deal With Book Bans, Anyway?

Across the nation, a small but vocal minority of activists have been calling on school districts to ban books en masse. In fact, 60% of all book challenges submitted by community members during the 2021-2022 school year were submitted by just 11 people! In the 2022-2023 school year alone:

  • 3,362 book bans were enacted in public school classrooms and libraries
  • 1,557 unique book titles were removed from shelves
  • This was a 33% increase from the previous school year

And the majority of the books being targeted feature characters of color or LGBTQIA+ characters. 

  • 37% have themes of race and racial justice
  • 36% have LGBTQIA+ themes and characters

Black authors have faced some of the harshest censorship, and bans of books by Black authors or about racism and Black American history have risen in recent years. This has a particularly detrimental impact on Black students. According to neuroscientist and clinical social worker Renetta Weaver, LCSW-C:

"Book bans are oppressive because they don’t allow people to see the range of identities that exist in their culture . . . As a result, a lot of BIPOC people are ashamed of themselves and the expression of their culture from food, language, hairstyle, fashion, and other practices. In working with children and youth, this lack of representation in learning materials is very damaging to their mental health as it reaffirms limiting beliefs about their purpose and potential."

By limiting students’ access to Black American history, in particular, school districts are attempting to distort our understanding of our own history and show students a sanitized and whitewashed version of the Black American experience.

Why Florida?

Of the book bans enacted during the 2022-2023 school year, a whopping 40% were in Florida alone. Governor DeSantis has made blocking BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ voices from education the center of his legislative policy agenda. Through HB 1467, the state banned over 1,400 titles across 33 school districts, impacting over 2.8 million students. Combine that with Florida’s passage of HB 1557 (the “Don’t Say Gay” law), and HB 1069 (the “Don’t Say They” law), and it’s clear that the state is on a mission to legislate whose stories are valid and whose are not.

In reaction to this, the Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop in Melbourne, FL decided to take action. They partnered with Foundation 451 to host a banned book nook right in their shop, so folks could grab a banned book alongside their scoop of Half Baked.

The Tour

After seeing how impactful Melbourne’s banned book nook was, we decided to bring banned books to impacted people across the state. We wanted to address the harmful movement to try to erase stories from marginalized communities, particularly in Florida’s most impacted communities. So we joined forces with Colin Kaepernick and Know Your Rights Camp and hit the road!

In five cities across Florida, we gave away banned books, download codes for Colin’s new book, “Our History has Always Been Contraband: In Defense of Black Studies,” and oodles of scoops of Colin Kaepernick’s Change The Whirled Non-Dairy. All for free! We had a great time meeting fans and learning more about how book bans have impacted students and communities across the state.

We were particularly excited to collaborate with Dream Defenders, a racial justice activism organization building a movement for freedom. Among other issues, Dream Defenders has been fighting against these harmful book ban policies and laws. The Dream Defenders team brought 4 busloads of students from local afterschool programs who were all thrilled to receive banned books and Change The Whirled Non-Dairy.

Across the state, the tour had a huge impact. We:

  • scooped up over 1,035 scoops of Colin Kaepernick’s Change The Whirled Non-Dairy
  • gave away 1,070 books that have been banned in local school districts
  • visited 5 cities

All thanks to our partners at Dream Defenders, TEEs, Foundation 451, and Know Your Rights Camp! And a Vermonster-sized thank you to our Melbourne, FL Scoop Shop for leading the charge, hosting our scoop truck, and taking a stand against book bans.

Get your own FREE download of Colin’s book here! And check out our favorite pics from our stops in Tampa, Miami, Melbourne, Tallahassee, and Pensacola:

Ben & Jerry's scoop truck with a rack of banned books alongside.

Photo of a banned book with a scoop of Ben & Jerry's ice cream next to it.

Ben & Jerry's scoop truck

Ben & Jerry's scoop truck with a line of people

Ben & Jerry's scoop truck next to a Know Your Rights Camp mural in Tampa, FL