Virginia Schools Ban ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ & ‘The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn’ For Racist Language

By Olivia Reese, Parent Herald December 07, 09:17 am
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Schools in Accomack County, Virginia have banned the literary classics "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" for using racial slurs such as the N-word. Both books have been challenged in the country in recent years.
(Photo : Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

Some Virginia schools have banned the literary classics "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" for using racist language. The books' removal from the schools' curriculum occurred after a complaint from a mother of a bi-racial student.

Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" and Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" aren't going to be taught in classrooms in Accomack County, Virginia anymore because of the novels' use of the N-word, The Guardian reported. The student's mother, Marie Rothstein-Williams, see the novels as pieces of "great literature" but also claimed that her son had a hard time reading the books' abundance of "racial slurs and defensive wording," according to Washington Post.

She said that the novels' racist language wasn't appropriate especially now that the United States is "divided." There are 200 racial slurs in "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," while the N-word is mentioned nearly 50 times in "To Kill a Mockingbird," the Los Angeles Times noted.

Rothstein-Williams said that the books are making students believe that racial words are "acceptable." She argued that requiring children to read the novels is like saying that racial slurs are OK to use even if it's not.

The two books still don't have a permanent ban slapped on them, though classrooms in the district are already devoid of the reading materials. The action didn't sit well with some groups.

The National Coalition Against Censorship, or NCAC, stressed that banning the books avoids a dialogue of controversial issues such as racism and thus, "a great disservice to their students." The NCAC said that the literary classics teach students the history of America's race relations and "invites them to examine race in the present day."

Some residents of Accomack County protested in front of the Accomac town's county courthouse and one protester said banning literature is "stupid," Delmarva Now reported. A student argued that banning the books aren't tolerating racial slurs but "showing the ignorance" of using them.

"The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" appeared more than once on the American Library Assn.'s top ten most challenged or banned books in the U.S. The book placed in the top ten in 2002 and 2007. "To Kill a Mockingbird" appeared on the list in 2009 and 2011.

Other books that were challenged in schools in recent years are Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" and Arundhati Roy's "The God of Small Things" because of their sexual content, according to the Cook County Chronicle. Do you think Virginia made the right decision when they banned "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn?" Why? Share your thoughts below.

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