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Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

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LA Times hosts a celebration of books

Laura Bernal
Guests visit the Lazy Day Books booth

The Los Angeles Times held their annual Festival of Books event on April 20 and April 21.

The event took place on the USC campus and hosted over 200 vendors, performers and speakers. Vendors included bookstores, publishers, film studios and artists.

The event is held every year in April and hosts conversations with authors, journalists and professionals in publishing and media.

The event shed a bright light on the living interest and importance of print media.

Courtney Davis, from PM Press, a political publisher said, “Books are how we discover who we are and it’s how we communicate ideas. It’s how we convince other people to do the right thing and it’s what inspires us.”

“New ideas, stimulation, all these things make us who we are as humans,” she said.

Hat & Beard Press, an independent publisher based in Los Angeles, provided fans of the iconic Chicano film, Blood In Blood Out, with the opportunity to get their behind-the-scenes book signed by the author, director and actors from the film.

The festivals had several stages where guests were invited to watch poetry readings, musical performances, cooking tutorials, and conversations with authors about their writings and influences at no extra cost.

The event also held panels and guest speakers where tickets were required including John Green and Ru Paul.

The festival provided publishers and bookstores the opportunity to further connect with the community.

Channing Martinez, co-director of Strategy & Soul Bookstore located in South Los Angeles, said, “We’re a project of the Labor Community Strategy Center and we fight for civil rights, climate justice, and depletion of the police state. The bookstore is a project to help support movement building.”

“Our focus is afro-centric revolutionary books and in this country, there’s a lot of folks banning a lot of books which quite literally is our history. We’re trying to keep the legacy of movement building alive, teaching folks about Frederick Douglas, Claudia Jones, and so many other black revolutionaries who took on this country like no one ever did.”

The festival also provided booths that would help bring books to the newest generation such as Lil Libros, a bilingual children’s book publisher.

Rosa Ramos, co-host of the Lil Libros booth, said “Books teach kids at a young age what they probably won’t be learning in school. It teaches culture and helps them stay rooted.”

“Lil Libros is trying to make sure that kids at an early age are able to not only keep both languages because I know language gets lost,” she said.

The event took place amid tension on the USC campus after they announced they would not allow their Valedictorian, Asna Tabassam, to give her commencement speech.

As a result, activists from Revcom Corps Los Angeles were scattered throughout the campus, spreading signs advocating for free speech and passing out informational flyers, and stickers that said “Let Asna Speak.”

“They are silencing this Valedictorian because of her political beliefs. We’re here to tell USC and to encourage everyone at this book fair to wear these stickers because this is silencing pro-Palestinian voices and that shouldn’t be allowed,” said Chantel Piper, an activist with Revcom Corps.

The festival is set to continue in the coming year of 2025 on April 26 and April 27.

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About the Contributor
Laura Bernal
Laura Bernal, Staff Writer
Laura Bernal is a staff writer for Talon Marks covering arts & entertainment and news. In her free time, she enjoys reading, listening to music and attending concerts. She plans to transfer to Cal State Fullerton and work at an independent magazine.
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