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The Voice of the Black Community

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Story of banned books in N.C.
"Color Purple," 'Invisible Man' pulled from schools
 
Published Monday, December 9, 2013 11:07 am
by Stephanie Carroll Carson, N.C. News Service

BOLIVIA, N.C. - Civil rights groups are reading between the lines and say the academic freedom of North Carolina students is being threatened by efforts to remove some award-winning literature from school reading lists.

The Brunswick County Board of Education is the most recent to consider removing a book – in this case, "The Color Purple" - from its high school reading list.

Chris Brook, legal director for the ACLU of North Carolina, said removing stories of racism and poverty is a strategy that belongs to a bygone era.

“It's very apt to phrase this as an issue that you thought you had fully dealt with last century,” he said. “It’s still something that we see, every now and again.”

The Brunswick School Board ultimately opted to leave “The Color Purple” on the reading list. Earlier this year, Randolph County Schools banned the book “The Invisible Man” and received national criticism for its decision. According to the ACLU, last year there were almost 500 reported attempts across the nation to ban a particular book from a school curriculum or library.

Brook said limiting the books to which students have access also is limiting their access to relevant societal issues he believes should be a part of their education.

“Frequently, the reason that these particular books are being assigned is to broaden students' horizons and expose them to different worlds and different situations that they might not face but are very much a part of day-to-day reality,” he said.

Instead of removing books from school reading lists when a small group of parents has an issue with them, Brook said, schools can offer alternative reads for those students.

 

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