Ben & Jerry’s and Ava DuVernay Want You to Read Banned Books


Ben & Jerry’s and Ava DuVernay are using their Lights! Caramel! Action! ice cream collaboration as a call to action—in more ways than one. 

The famed Vermont-based ice cream maker and the award-winning filmmaker, writer and producer—both as well known for their social justice activism as they are for their respective crowd-pleasing crafts—have teamed up once again to promote DuVernay’s latest film, Origin. The film is currently showing in New York and Los Angeles, and set for wide release on Jan. 19.  

To spread the word about the film especially among diverse and young adult audiences, the brand and director tapped children’s book author, illustrator and self-proclaimed “artivist” Nikkolas Smith to create two adjoining murals in Los Angeles depicting scenes from the film.

One of the murals, which prominently features the Ben & Jerry’s flavor created by DuVernay, includes messaging directing viewers to Seat16, an initiative created through DuVernay’s nonprofit Array Alliance to sponsor 10,000 young people to experience the film and encourage them to engage with banned books.

a billboard of children playing in water
The billboards by artist Nikkolas Smith depict scenes from DuVernay’s film Origin.

(The film—described as an exploration of “how different cultures throughout history have created social hierarchies, or castes, and the toll that takes on people’s humanity”—is based on Isabel Wilkerson’s bestselling book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, one of many books written by authors of color banned in recent months by conservative groups.)

DuVernay is the first Black woman to collaborate with Ben & Jerry’s on an ice cream flavor, joining rock music legends Jerry Garcia and Phish, comedians and late night hosts Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon, and civil rights activist Colin Kaepernick. The Lights! Caramel! Action! flavor is part of the brand’s permanent offerings, with a portion of proceeds going to Array Alliance, whose mission is to advance social justice through art. 

“Ben & Jerry’s is one of the most innovative partners that Array has collaborated with, and this campaign to amplify education and awareness of Origin to young people has been as wonderful as our Lights! Caramel! Action! ice cream,” said DuVernay. “Nikkolas Smith is one of my favorite young artists, and his poignant work on this project captures a powerful moment from the film with great warmth and poignancy.” 

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