How Harry Potter Inspires Social Activism

Over on the Dallas Morning News, there is a story that seems to pop up each Wednesday before every Harry Potter movie installment: how Harry Potter made it okay for kids to read, helped make nerds seem cool, and established a rapid fan base of Potterheads who feel united as a community when jabbering in gobbledygook Potter speak. But this is a new twist (to me, at least): Harry Potter has actually spawned a generation of social activists, the piece asserts, as Potterheads bind together to do good things in the name of fighting Voldemort evil things in the real world:

Throughout the country, fan groups are finding ways to relate community service efforts to the fight against evil in the series.

[Andrew] Slack said the “Dumbledore’s Army”-inspired Harry Potter Alliance was one of the first organized groups to relate real-world social issues to scenarios in Harry Potter. . . .

In its 11 years, the organization has donated more than 55,000 books internationally, raised $123,000 to send Harry Potter -themed planes to Haiti for earthquake relief, and inspired 1,100 fans to register to vote in Congressional elections, among other projects.

In the nine months between the releases of the two Deathly Hallows movies, the group targeted seven real-world problems: child slavery, illiteracy, bullying, low self-esteem, labor exploitation, anxiety and depression, and global warming. Inspired by Harry’s quest to destroy each of Voldemort’s horcruxes, fragments of the villain’s soul, the organization named each of their targeted social issues a horcrux.

“Dumbledore had a vision that could truly make a difference in our world if acted on and believed in,” Slack said.

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