Flashback: Rev. Jesse Jackson Narrates Dr. Seuss Audiobook as Racism Charges Fly

Rev. Jesse Jackson addresses the Rainbow PUSH Coalition Annual International Convention in Chicago, Tuesday, July 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Amr Alfiky)
Amr Alfiky/AP Photo

A writer for the Literary Hub website posted ten of his favorite audiobooks in May of 2019, including one Rev. Jesse Jackson narrated.

And while Green Eggs and Ham isn’t one of the six books banned because of alleged racist content, all of his books are now suspect, including President Joe Biden dropping Dr. Seuss from the traditional announcement of Reading Across America Day that falls on the author’s birthday.

Presidents who praised Seuss on the occasion of the national reading day include former President Barack Obama who even read the books to children at the White House.

Others simply used the works of Dr. Seuss to further their own programs:

The organization responsible for Seuss’ legacy, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, said in a statement released on Tuesday six books are being retired because they portrayed characters “in ways that are hurtful and wrong.”

Today, on Dr. Seuss’s Birthday, Dr. Seuss Enterprises celebrates reading and also our mission of supporting all children and families with messages of hope, inspiration, inclusion, and friendship.

We are committed to action.  To that end, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, working with a panel of experts, including educators, reviewed our catalog of titles and made the decision last year to cease publication and licensing of the following titles:  And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super!, and The Cat’s Quizzer 

These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.

The New York Times detailed the alleged racism in the books:

Mr. Geisel’s stories are loved by fans for their rhymes and fantastical characters but also for their positive values, like taking responsibility for the planet. But in recent years, critics have said some of his work was racist and presented harmful depictions of certain groups.

In “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” a character described as “a Chinaman” has lines for eyes, wears a pointed hat, and carries chopsticks and a bowl of rice. (Editions published in the 1970s changed the reference from “a Chinaman” to “a Chinese man.”) In “If I Ran the Zoo,” two characters from “the African island of Yerka” are depicted as shirtless, shoeless and resembling monkeys.

A school district in Virginia said over the weekend that it had advised schools to de-emphasize Dr. Seuss books on Read Across America Day, a national literacy program that takes place each year on March 2, the anniversary of Mr. Geisel’s birth. “Research in recent years has revealed strong racial undertones in many books written/illustrated by Dr. Seuss,” according to the statement by the district, Loudoun County Public Schools.

Many schools across the country have routinely celebrated Seuss’ birthday and his books for children as part of Read Across America Day on March 2

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