SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Broadway SF has teamed up with the San Francisco Unified School District, the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL), and Mayor London Breed to create a major initiative aimed at promoting literacy across San Francisco.

Mayor London Breed announced the initiative at a press conference at the SFPL on Tuesday. Oscar and Emmy award-winning playwright Aaron Sorkin was also in attendance at the event with cast members Melanie Moore, Richard Thomas, and Yaegel T. Welch from the “To Kill a Mockingbird” play.

On Wednesday 250 students from across San Francisco will attend a showing of “To Kill a Mockingbird” at the Golden Gate Theatre thanks to a donation from Broadway SF. Each of these students will also receive a copy of the 1960 novel written by Harper Lee.

Broadway SF has also donated 100 copies of the book To Kill a Mockingbird to the SFPL to ensure that the novel is available to anyone who requests it. Over 5,000 books total will be donated to various groups that promote literacy across San Francisco including 826 Valencia, Larkin Street Youth Services, and LYRIC Youth.

The announcement of the initiative comes the week before Banned Books Week which runs Sept. 18-24. Sorkin spoke of the importance of the timing.

In the last few years, a number of school boards around the country have banned Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”, ironically, both extremes of the ideological spectrum. On the left, they say it is a white savior story. On the right, they say it makes Jim Crow look bad. I’m so happy that we’re handing out books instead of banning them because those conversations shouldn’t be happening at school board meetings, they should be happening in classrooms.

Aaron Sorkin

Matt Wayne, the Superintendent of San Francisco Schools spoke on how valuable these donations will be, “We teach literature and the arts with multiple representations, so that students can acquire literacy skills while affirming the multiplicity of experiences in our community,” stated Superintendent Dr. Matt Wayne.

Sorkin is well known for his fast-paced, witty dialogue. Cast members Moore and Welch shared how Sorkin’s dialogue brought added life to the “To Kill a Mockingbird” play, “I had the amazingly lucky task that this is my first play, and it just happened to be Sorkin…what he’s written is so beautiful so just let it happen.”

“Aaron puts everything in the words. The words are so rich” Welch said of the work. “You don’t have to act so much because so much is in the story and the words and the dialogue… it happened for all of us.” Welch says he’s particularly happy to be sharing this story with a city as diverse as San Francisco, “It’s exciting because I think it’s a story that needs to be told.”

To Kill a Mockingbird opens at the Golden Gate Theatre on Tuesday and will run through Oct. 9. For more information about the show or tickets please visit the Broadway SF website.