Biloxi Blues: To Kill a Mockingbird  Banned

Some of the language in Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, is “making some people uncomfortable.” That’s what members of a Mississippi school board said recently when they pulled the book from the eighth-grade curriculum in Biloxi. The Sun Herald broke the story:

When asked Thursday morning if the book had been pulled from the course, Superintendent Arthur McMillan issued a statement five hours later that said: “There are many resources and materials that are available to teach state academic standards to our students. These resources may change periodically. We always strive to do what is best for our students and staff to continue to perform at the highest level.”

McMillan did not answer any questions on the issue.

Sun Herald received a email from a concerned reader who said the decision was made “mid-lesson plan, the students will not be allowed to finish the reading of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ …. due to the use of the ‘N’ word.”

The reader said, “I think it is one of the most disturbing examples of censorship I have ever heard, in that the themes in the story humanize all people regardless of their social status, education level, intellect, and of course, race. It would be difficult to find a time when it was more relevant than in days like these.”

Published in 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird is widely held to be an American classic. It is also, as the Sun Herald points out, one of the most banned American books of all time. “The American Library Association lists To Kill a Mockingbird as No. 21 in the [list of] most banned or challenged books in the last decade,” says the Sun Herald.

You can see which books are most frequently banned on the ALA’s website here.

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