Bookstores as Spaces for Community Dialogue

We are deeply grateful that so many people in our community appreciate the important role that bookstores like ours play in creating safe spaces for the exchange of ideas and constructive dialogue about the most challenging issues of the day. Indeed, independent bookstores have long been, and remain, a pillar of civic life and democracy throughout the United States. Today, in troubling times, we believe that bookstores are more essential than ever.

Each year, Politics and Prose hosts more than 1,000 authors speaking about a range of topics and ideas. Our events draw people from across the community who value the opportunity to engage with authors and their fellow citizens. To enhance the discourse, events are structured so that audience members have an opportunity to pose questions and challenge the opinions of authors. Spirited discussions often take place. Our hope is that these exchanges remain civil, respectful, and tolerant of diverse and divergent points of view.

Hate speech is never welcome in any of our stores.

Only a handful of events at Politics and Prose over the years have been interrupted by protesters seeking to disrupt an author or silence his or her ideas. The most recent occurred on April 27—Independent Bookstore Day—when a group of self-described white nationalists entered Politics and Prose on Connecticut Avenue NW, paraded to the back of the store, shouted a white supremacist message, and  left. The event resumed, and the author led a substantive conversation about his book. 

Attempts to silence authors at Politics and Prose violate our spirit and mission. Such incidents have not deterred, and will not deter, us from bringing books, authors, ideas, and constructive dialogue to our community.

The safety and security of those who enter our doors remains a top priority. Recognizing that incivility, intolerance, and hate too often define the political discourse in America today, we have taken, and will continue to take, measures to ensure that all visitors—from authors to audience members—can enjoy Politics and Prose and its programs without risk or threat to any person’s freedom and safety.

We would like to commend our staff for their grace, poise, and professionalism and for their unwavering dedication to cultivating community and managing so many literary and cultural activities. Together they and all of you who support Politics and Prose will help ensure more great book events in the years ahead.

--Brad and Lissa