I usually write about books, writing, or Alaska on this blog. I reserve the political stuff for my social media or my private life. But sometimes it spills over, and this is one of those blog posts. I promise I won’t try to convert you, just tell you about a person in my life, and present an issue I think most readers can agree on.
If I need to impress an Alaskan, I tell them I went to high school with Johnny Ellis. While I became a teacher, Johnny went on to serve in the Alaska State House and Senate, including time as the Majority Leader. Johnny Ellis was a true public servant. His mission in life was to be a voice for those without one. For many years, he was in the news for the right reasons.
Johnny passed away last week at the age of 61.
Johnny mentored many Alaskans. He was also a loyal friend. He touched so many people in his life, including me. We saw each other occasionally, and kept in touch. When my daughter became Miss Alaska, there was only one politician she wanted in a photo opp—Johnny. He was delighted to be asked.
I know that Johnny’s legacy lives on, in Alaska’s laws and in the people he served and mentored. But I can’t help but feel the hole he left behind. When a role model dies, you grieve for your loss, and you wonder if you lived up to their faith in you. Am I doing enough? Am I serving the public?
As you’re probably aware, cases of book censorship and banning have increased at an alarming rate. The mission of public and school libraries is threatened. I imagine Johnny Ellis telling me to go out there and do something about it. So maybe it’s time to get political—time to stand up and provide a voice for libraries. If you’re concerned about this issue, here are some places to start:
The ALA (American Library Association) assists libraries with book challenges and promotes the freedom to read in this part of their website:
Or you can donate and access materials to encourage others at https://www.ala.org/aboutala/annual-fund-2021
EveryLibrary is an organization that promotes and supports libraries. See their website at
Texas librarians started the #FReadom Fighters to highlight the work librarians do and defend the right to read. See their website at
I’m no Johnny Ellis, but I can do something. We can all make a difference, together.