A school district in Duluth, Minnesota, has announced that they will ban To Kill a Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn from classroom curricula.
Duluth Public Schools announced this week that they will be banning the teaching of To Kill a Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn over the books’ use of racial slurs.
“The district owes it to its students to not subject them to a racial slur that marginalizes them in their required learning,” Michael Cary, the school’s director of curriculum and instruction said in a comment to the Duluth News Tribune. “We felt that we could still teach the same standards and expectations through other novels that didn’t require students to feel humiliated or marginalized by the use of racial slurs.”
The local NAACP chapter published a statement, praising the decision to ban the books due to their “hurtful” nature.
Some people think the novels are educational literature for students, [chapter president Stephan Witherspoon] said, but the novels are “just hurtful” and use “hurtful language that has oppressed the people for over 200 years.” The district’s use of the books as required reading has been an ongoing discussion between elders in the local NAACP and district leaders for years, [he] said.
“It’s wrong. There are a lot more authors out there with better literature that can do the same thing that does not degrade our people. I’m glad that they’re making the decision and it’s long overdue, like 20 years overdue,” Witherspoon said. “Let’s move forward and work together to make school work for all of our kids, not just some, all of them.”
Harper Lee, the late author of To Kill a Mockingbird condemned those at the Hanover County School Board in Virginia who wished to ban the novel in 1966. “Surely it is plain to the simplest intelligence that ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ spells out in words of seldom more than two syllables a code of honor and conduct, Christian in its ethic, that is the heritage of all Southerners,” Lee wrote. “To hear that the novel is ‘immoral’ has made me count the years between now and 1984, for I have yet to come across a better example of double-think.”
“I feel, however, that the problem is one of illiteracy, not Marxism. Therefore I enclose a small contribution to the Beadle Bumble Fund that I hope will be used to enroll the Hanover County School Board in any first grade of its choice,” she added.
Users on social media expressed their confusion over the decision.
A school in Minnesota has removed the book ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ from their course due to the N word.
Welcome to the dumbing down of America's youth.
I read this book in 5th grade and it taught me how terrible & hurtful that word was. I knew from then on I would never use it.
— Educating Liberals (@Education4Libs) February 9, 2018
Holy hell this is dumb, and the local NAACP chapter should not be supporting this: “Duluth, MN schools remove 'To Kill A Mockingbird' and 'Huckleberry Finn' from curriculum” https://t.co/DLyMdDl7Wn
— Mark Hemingway (@Heminator) February 7, 2018
In January, a Wisconsin school district announced it was also considering dropping To Kill a Mockingbird.