Unstoppable Stories: A Banned Books Festival

Unstoppable Stories: A Banned Books Festival

The festival is part of the Teaching Truth Campaign and coincides with the launch of Banned Books Week, Oct. 1-7, 2023.

Rep Jamie Raskin

Keynote Speaker Representative Jamie Raskin

As the festival name declares, Stories are Unstoppable. They celebrate who we are out loud, despite attempts at censorship. They lift up our experiences, connect us across our differences and are how we learn to be better people.

Register Here

Donate (all donation options listed below) Your donations support speakers, food and festival expenses

Contact – Andrew Batcher, with questions about the festival or to become a sponsor

Dates and Locations

Keynote Speaker Delegate Eileen Filler Corn

  • Sep. 30, 2023, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 6301 River Road, Bethesda, MD 20817 (entrance on Whittier Blvd.)
  • Sun., Oct. 1, 2023, 12 p.m.-3 p.m., UU Fairfax, 2709 Hunter Mill Road, Oakton, VA 22124. UUCF worship service, focusing on banned books, starts at 10. Refreshments, bookstore and partner tables available after the service.

Tentative Schedule

Saturday Schedule (Exact times to be determined)

  • Loyalty Bookstore all day, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

    Author and Illustrator Juana Medina (Panelist)

  • 10 a.m. – Opening session – Voice of Hope Youth Choir followed by Social Justice Coordinator Andrew Batcher introducing the festival and leading a short discussion about book banning, schools, the importance of inclusion, the targeting of LGBTQIA+ people and People of Color, and the role of liberating faith in countering religious nationalism.
  • 11 a.m. – Author Panel (more authors to come) – Featuring Juana MedinaJ.P. Der BoghossianPhyllis Reynolds Naylor.
  • 12 p.m. – Lunch with local food trucks
  • 1 p.m. – Keynote Speaker and Q&A – U.S. Congressional Representative Jamie Raskin (MD)
  • 2 p.m. – Breakout Workshops and Family Fun Time, including Drag Storytime with Vee Vee Majesty and arts and crafts

Sunday Schedule (Exact times to be determined)

Author Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (Panelist)


  • Grassroots Comedy DC – Storytelling Workshop
  • J.P. Der Boghossian – Speak Up For Queer Writes

    Shari Henry – Director of Democracy and Community Impact at Urban Libraries (Panelist)

  • Hamkae Center and Patty Pearson – The Whitewashing of History Then and Now
  • Workshops by Virginia Red Wine and Blue
  • Fascism and Liberation, from Nazi Germany to today


The festival originated within the Unitarian Universalist (UU) Potomac Partnership (Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church (CLUUC), UU Congregation of Fairfax and River Road UU Congregation).  Other organizers, represented by more than 30 grassroots volunteers, include Loyalty Bookstores, the Virginia UU State Action Network, This Queer Book Saved My Life podcast, NOVA Prism CenterVirginia Red Wine and BlueFCPS Pride, the Fairfax County Federation of TeachersSURJ NoVA (Showing Up

Mary Pellicano – Retired School Librarian (panelist)

for Racial Justice Northern Virginia), Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christthe Hamkae CenterMason Creative WritingDrag Story Hour DMVRealtor Tricia Amstutz and Unity of Fairfax. The organizing team grows every week.


Donations to the Festival support speaker stipends, food and festival promotions:

  • Unstoppable Stories Faithify Campaign: https://www.faithify.org/unstoppable-stories. Faithify is a fundraising platform that helps Unitarian Universalist congregations, organizations and individuals around the world accomplish their fundraising goals.

    Latina DMV goddess, drag artist and story teller Vee Vee Majesty (Drag Time Story Hour)

  • Donate through UU Fairfax’s Realm database: https://onrealm.org/UUCF/give/BBFest
  • Text a donation: Text “UUFAIRFAX BBFest” to 73256 to give using your mobile device. This number will never send unsolicited texts to you. To cancel further messages, text STOP. If you need assistance with text giving, text HELP. Standard text message and data rates may apply.
  • PayPal: https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/UUCF?country.x=US&locale.x=en_US
  • Checks: Make checks payable to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax and send them to Gayathri Tillekeratne, Finance Manager, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax, 2709 Hunter Mill Road, Oakton, VA 22124. Please write BBFest in the memo line.