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Back to December Ed Reporter

Education Reporter
NUMBER 215 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS DECEMBER 2003

'Huck Finn,' 'Mockingbird' Censored 
Conservative parents are often caricatured for objecting to the use of books they find offensive in schools. In two recent incidents, however, an American literary classic was censored in school due to complaints by African-Americans about the use of a racial epithet in the work.

In late September, schools in Renton, Washington temporarily pulled Mark Twain's novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from their high school reading list in response to a student's complaint. The district is requiring extra training for teachers before the book is returned to the classroom.

"I can't read a book that degrades me and my culture," senior Calista Phair said (kingcountyjournal.com, 9-22-03). Renton district administrators pointed out that the book has value in the classroom because it contains the representation of one of the first African-American male heroes in literature, and questions from the story sometimes appear on national Advanced Placement exams.

In October, Columbus East High School in Indianapolis canceled a planned staging of the play To Kill a Mockingbird following a demand by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Weeks of rehearsal by students went down the drain and the school had to scramble to put on an alternative play.

The NAACP insisted that despite the story's message of racial justice, the use of a racial epithet on stage would be offensive to many in a mixed crowd of high school families. The play's publisher refused permission to edit out the word. (indystar.com, 10-11-03)


 
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