Librotraficante has had a rollercoaster year. Led by Houston-based author and activist Tony Diaz, the organization (whose name means “book smuggler” in Spanish) formed last year in response to Arizona House Bill 2281 (PDF file), which outlaws teaching courses in Arizona public schools that promote the overthrow of the United States government, foster racial and class-based resentment, favor one ethnic group over another, or advocate ethnic solidarity.
The bill, signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer in 2010, forced Tucson United School District (TUSD) to dismantle its successful Mexican-American studies program after receiving complaints that the course instilled views that were anti-American, anti-white, and hostile to the US government. The elimination of the program led to the removal of hundreds of books from Tucson United school libraries, including works by Isabel Allende, Junot Díaz, Dagoberto Gilb, Howard Zinn, Henry David Thoreau, and William Shakespeare. Former teachers of the program and students filed lawsuits to challenge the bill’s constitutionality, and the American Library Association passed a resolution at its 2012 Midwinter Meeting opposing the restrictions.