James Patterson donates $5.3M to Howard University and other recipients after speaking about racism in publishing.
James Patterson, who competes with Stephen King for the highest paid author and has sold more than 400 million copies of the several hundred novels published under his name, has been throwing money at the future of writing lately. In recent years, he’s given over $100 million to various literary and literacy programs.
“I was brought up to give back — so my mother and grandmother should get the praise here,” Patterson said in a statement. “I’ve dedicated my career to getting as many people to love books as possible. I advocate for literacy and schools, fund teacher scholarships, and support other writers, booksellers, and librarians in any way that I can.”
On Tuesday, Patterson announced that he was giving $2 million to PEN America, $2 million to Scholastic Book Clubs for their “United States of Readers” classroom project, and $1.3 million to historically Black university Howard University to fund 12 scholarships and 14 writers’ fellowships.
PEN America is a nonprofit organization dedicated to defending free speech for writers, and their work includes protecting threatened journalists, providing legal defense to individual writers defending their work, and raising awareness about threats to freedom of artistic expression.
Exercising his own right to free speech, Patterson put his foot in his mouth a few times this year, making statements that white men are the real victims of of racism and sexism. Despite white men representing 65% of all best-selling authors, (and 100% of the top 5 in the 2000s), 92% of all directors of box office films, and 99% of all publishing decision makers, Patterson publicly complained about how hard it was for white men to find work in entertainment. He has since apologized, and the donation to Howard University is part of that.
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