The New Social EnvironmentCommon Ground#828

Brooklyn Trail: A conversation with the National Coalition Against Censorship

Featuring Christine Emeran, Chris Finan, Elizabeth Larison, and Svetlana Mintcheva, and Rev. Dr. Donna Schaper, with Alina Stefanescu


1 p.m. Eastern / 10 a.m. Pacific

Christine Emeran, Chris Finan, Elizabeth Larison, and Svetlana Mintcheva of the National Coalition Against Censorship join Rev. Dr. Donna Schaper for a conversation. We conclude with a poetry reading by Alina Stefanescu.

In this talk

More on the National Coalition Against Censorship→ 

Christine Emeran

A portrait of Christine Emeran
Christine Emeran is director of the Youth Free Expression Program at the National Coalition Against Censorship. She writes on contemporary issues about young people, social media, and social movements in the United States and Europe. Emeran is a Fulbright Fellow and author of New Generation Political Activism in Ukraine 2000–2014, a book manuscript on generational change and the personalization of protest, When Students Protest: Secondary and High Schools, a book chapter on school censorship and student protest, and a book chapter on book censorship to be featured in Project Censored’s State of the Free Press. She has taught at several notable institutions, and received a PhD in sociology from the New School for Social Research.

Chris Finan

A photo of Chris Finan
Chris Finan is executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship, an alliance of 58 national non-profits that defends free speech. Mr. Finan has been involved in the fight against censorship for over 40 years. He is a former president of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. He is the author of several books, including How Free Speech Saved Democracy: The Untold History of How the First Amendment Became an Effective Tool for Securing Liberty and Social Justice (Steerforth Press). His book From the Palmer Raids to the PATRIOT Act: A History of the Fight for Free Speech in America) (Beacon Press), won the American Library Association’s Eli M.Oboler Award for the best work on intellectual freedom, published in 2006 and 2007.

Elizabeth Larison

A photo of Elizabeth Larison
Elizabeth Larison has worked in curatorial, programmatic, and directorial capacities for arts organizations and venues such as Flux Factory, the Park Avenue Armory, the Vera List Center for Art and Politics, and apexart. With academic degrees in Human Rights (BA) and Curatorial Studies (MA), and over thirteen years of working with and in support of artists and curators, Elizabeth brings a depth of understanding to the fundamental importance of defending artistic expression. As Director of NCAC’s Arts & Culture Advocacy Program, Elizabeth leads various initiatives in advising and educating artists, writers, playwrights, as well as curators and other cultural intermediaries, in how to address the presentation of controversial works.

Svetlana Mintcheva

A photo of Dr. Svetlana Mintcheva
Dr. Svetlana Mintcheva is a highly experienced expert in confronting controversy around creative expression. She directed NCAC program activities for many years and remains a passionate advocate for artistic freedom and free speech in general. Svetlana has written extensively on emerging trends in censorship within their socio-political context. With a background in teaching literature and critical theory at various universities, she is currently dedicated to researching the challenges to free speech presented by social media and political polarizatio

Rev. Dr. Donna Schaper

A photo of Rev. Dr. Donna Schaper
Community builder Rev. Dr. Donna Schaper served as Senior Minister of Judson Memorial Church from 2006 to 2021. She was formerly at Coral Gables Congregational Church in Miami and before that at Yale University, and teaches leadership at the Hartford Seminary. As an elder, she is passionately concerned about leaving the next generation well-prepared for all they have to face. She has written over 35 books including Approaching End of Life: A Practical and Spiritual Guide (2015), Grace at Table: Small Spiritual Solutions to Large Material Problems, Solving Everything (2013), to her most recent book I Heart Francis: Letters to the Pope from an Unlikely Admirer (2016), among many others. She is an Editor-at-Large at the Rail.

The Rail has a tradition of ending our conversations with a poetry reading, and we’re fortunate to have Alina Stefanescu reading.

Alina Stefanescu

A photo of Alina Stefanescu
Alina Stefanescu was born in Romania and lives in Birmingham, Alabama. Her poetry collection, Dor, won the 2021 Wandering Aengus Press Prize, and her fiction collection, Every Mask I Tried On, won the 2018 Brighthorse Books Prize. She currently serves as poetry editor for several journals, reviewer and critic for others, Co-Director of PEN America’s Birmingham Chapter, and juror for the 2023 Neustadt Prize. Among other things, she is currently working on a novel-like creature.

❤️ 🌈 We'd like to thank the The Terra Foundation for American Art for making these daily conversations possible, and for their support of our growing archive.