Censorship In Schools

To Kill A Mockingbird in Duluth

Illustrator: Katie Heywood

This February the Duluth school district decided they were going to drop “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Huckleberry Finn” from the school’s curriculum. Michael Cary, director of curriculum and instruction for the district said to the Star Tribune that their reason for banning the books was because “the feedback that we’ve received is that it makes many students feel uncomfortable.” Cary stated that this decision was made after years of complaints and concerns from both parents and students.

The greatest concern is over the use of the n-word and the discussion of rape within the books, and how that affects the students. If the important aspects can be taught and comprehended by students through another book without the explicit topics of these two specifically, that would be a great choice for school districts. It would be unacceptable for the schools to completely withdrawal all teaching of these issues if they decided to remove the books from their curriculum. For some students, without the books addressing these complicated issues they may never have exposure to them.

This is not a new issue and has been argued about since the books first became prevalent in school curriculum. The concerns are justified, but it is important to understand that the way these complicated issues are understood by students is based on the way the book is taught. We cannot deny this country’s past, and it would do great injustice to the student to ignore the important issue of racism as it is still apparent today. With the guidance of a teacher the students are able to understand the harm intended behind the words used during the time period the book was written, the racist and harmful mindset people in the south had against African American people, and how this struggle against racism is still continuing.