ACCOMACK, Va. – Officials at Accomack County Public Schools removed the classic American novels “The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin” and “To Kill a Mockingbird” from schools over a formal complaint about coarse language.
District officials suspended both books from use in the classroom and banned students from checking them out of the library after someone filed a formal complaint about the use of racial slurs in the books, which triggered a review process, Delmarva Now reports.
“We have a committee looking at all of this,” superintendent Chris Holland said. “There’s been no recommendation right now.”
Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin,” which has been widely used in schools as a shining example of American literature, was first published in the United States in 1885. It centers on an anti-racist protagonist and plot set in the antebellum south.
“To Kill a Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee, is a Pulitzer Prize winning story about racial injustice that’s been used in schools since it was published in 1960.
“The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin” features 219 racial slurs. In “To Kill A Mockingbird,” there’s 48, according to Delmarva Now.
District officials are now convening a committee that includes a principal, library media specialist, classroom teacher, parent or student, and complainant to review the content of the books and make a formal recommendation to Holland, the Associated Press reports.
Numerous folks who commented about the situation online clearly think school officials are over-reacting to the complaint.
“I am extremely sensitive and opposed to the belittlement and degradation of a people solely based on their race or religion. I also believe that we cannot change history and to ignore it, hide it, or prevent our youth from learning from it does nothing to increase their intellect and prevent history from repeating itself,” Bobby McQuaid wrote.
“These are classic literary achievements, partially because they do demonstrate the callous and irreverent approach to racial degradation in years past. Censorship of the novels will deprive our youth of an important, and difficult, learning experience.”
“There will always be something for someone to complain about. This week it’s Huck Finn and racial slurs, next week it’s Harry Potter and witchcraft. The following week it’ll be something else, there’s always something someone can find in a book to get their knickers in a twist over,” Harry Callaghan posted. “Stop humoring them.”
“Only idiots who likely dropped out of school in sixth grade, would complain about these classics. To kill a mockingbird taught me, at a young age, that standing up for those unable to do so for themselves, is a good and righteous thing,” Ryan Mathias added.
“Censorship does nothing to promote good race relations. This sets up a dangerous precedent in Accomack County, and it’s a form of head-in-the-sand behavior,” Maryellen Snyder wrote.
“These books are classic, celebrated American literature, and in addition to being great reading, they are a teaching tool – an opportunity to initiate conversations in the classroom that can lead to understanding and self-expression,” she posted. “As happens all too often in our schools, the kids are the real losers here.”