The Max Reddick Experience

NATIONAL BANNED BOOKS WEEK—SEPTEMBER 22 - 28, 2013
Challenged and Banned Books by and about African Americans
Young and Black In America by Rae Pace Alexander
1983—After the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union sued the Elk River School Board, the Board reversed its decision to restrict the title to students who have written permission from their parents.  (MN)
And the Walls Came Tumbling Down by Ralph D. Abernathy
1989—Burned protest in Denver because it alleges that Martin Luther King, Jr. was involved with three women.  E. Napoleon Walton, the publisher of the Denver Cosmopolitan Advertiser, stated, “[Abernathy] has his freedom of speech, and we have our freedom to burn it.”  (CO)
And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou
1982—Challenged at the Northside High School in Lafayette, Louisiana.  (LA)
1987—Challenged at the Longview school system in Washington because some “students could be harmed by its graphic language.” (WA)
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
1983 – 2009—Over thirty-five challenges in twenty states since the book’s publication.
2009—Challenged in the Newman-Crows Landing School District on a required reading list presented by the Orestimba High English Department.  A trustee questioned the qualifications of Orestimba staff to teach a novel depicting African American culture.  (CA)
Another Country by James Baldwin
1963—Considered obscene, the book was banned from the New Orleans Public library.  After a year of litigation, it was restored.  (LA)
Blues for Mister Charlie by James Baldwin
1980—Challenged in Sioux Falls, South Dakota because it’s “pornographic,” and it “tears down Christian principles.” (SD).
Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
1994—Challenged as required reading in the Hudson Falls Schools because the books has recurring themes of rape, masturbation, violence, and degrading treatment of women.  (NY)
1998—Challenged as a ninth-grade summer reading option in Prince William County because the book “was rife with profanity and explicit sex.”  (VA)
If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin
1989—Removed from the St. Paul High School Library because the book contains obscene language and explicit descriptions of sexual activity.  (OR)
Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone by James Baldwin
1983—Four members of the Alabama State Textbook Committee called for its rejection because Baldwin’s work preaches “bitterness and hatred against whites.”  (AL)
The Toilet by Amiri Baraka
1969—Expurgated at Eastern High School to eliminate “four-letter words or vernacular.”
Manchild in the Promised Land by Claude Brown
1974 – 1987—Challenged five times in four states.  (WI, FL, LA, OH, OR)
1987—Challenged at the Parkrose High School because the content is “violent, the language offensive, and women are degraded.”  The protestors also questioned its relevance, claiming that Parkrose students have no need to understand life in a black ghetto.  (OR)
A Hero Ain’t Nothin But a Sandwich by Alice Childress
1976 – 1994—Challenged five times in five states.  (NY, GA, TX, MD, SC)
1976—Removed from Island Trees School Union Free District High School library along with nine other titles because they were considered “immoral, anti-American, anti-Christian, or just plain filthy.”  (NY)
Rainbow Jordan by Alice Childress
1986—Challenged at the Gwinnett County public schools because of “foul language and sexual references.”  (GA)
1986—Banned from Spokane middle schools because the book’s storyline about a prostitute’s daughter was “too mature.”  (WA)
Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver
1969 -1979—Challenged five times in four states.  (CA, CT, NY, WA)
1975—Challenged at the Greenwich High School library because the book is “crime provoking and anti-American as well as obscene and pornographic.”  (CT)
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
1994—Retained in the Yakima schools after a five-month dispute over what advanced high school students should read in the classroom.  Two parents raised concerns about profanity and images of violence and sexuality in the book and requested that it be removed from the reading list.  (WA)
2013—North Carolina school board considers banning the book after the mother of an 11-grader complained, claiming Ellison’s work was inappropriate for 11th grade summer reading, citing both language and subject matter.
The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines
2006—Challenged as an eighth-grade district-wide reading assignment in the Puyallup schools because “racial slurs and stereotyping are used throughout the book, as well as scenes of sex, rape, and implied incest.”  
A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
2004—Removed from the college bookstore at Louisiana College, Pineville by the college president “because a love scene described in the book clashes with the school’s Christian values.”  (LA)
My House by Nikki Giovanni
1992—Challenged by the Duval County public school libraries because it contains the word “nigger” and was accused of containing excessive vulgarity, racism, and sex.  (FL)
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
1979—Responding to criticism from an anti-pornography organization, the Ogden School District restricted circulation of Hansberry’s play.  (UT)
Nappy Hair by Carolivia Herron
1998—Challenged in Brooklyn because it was considered racially insensitive.  (NY)
The Best Short Stories By Negro Writers an Anthology From 1899 to the Present edited by Langston Hughes
1976—Removed from Island Trees School Union Free District High School library along with nine other titles because they were considered “immoral, anti-American, anti-Christian, or just plain filthy.”  (NY)
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
1997—Challenged for sexual explicitness, but retained on the Stonewall Jackson High School’s academically advanced reading list in Brentsville.  A parent objected to the novel’s language and sexual explicitness.
Call Me Charley by Jesse Jackson
1979—Parents of a black fourth-grade student filed suit against Grand Blanc school officials after a teacher read this title to their son’s class.  The work includes a black youth “Sambo,” “nigger,” and “coon.”
The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcom X with Alex Haley
1993—Challenged in the Duval County Public School district because the slain Black Muslim leader advocated anti-white racism and violence.  (FL)
Mirandy and Brother Wind by Patricia McKissack
1991—Challenged at the Glen Springs Elementary School in Gainesville, Florida, because of the book’s use of black dialect.  (FL)
Daddy Was a Number Runner by Louise Meriweather
1977—Removed from all Oakland junior high school libraries and its use restricted in senior high schools, following a complaint about the book’s explicit depiction of ghetto life.  (CA)
Beloved by Toni Morrison
1995 – 2007—Challenged seven times in six states since its publication.  (FL, TX, ME, IL, ID, & KY)
2007—Challenged in the Coeur d’Alene School District.  Some parents say the book along with five others should require parental permission for students to read them.  (ID)
2013—Parent wants the book removed because she believes it depicts scenes of bestiality, gang rape and an infant’s gruesome murder, content she believes could be too intense for teenage readers.
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
1994 – 2007—Challenged eleven times in nine states since publication.  (AK, PA, FL, MA, MD, NH, CA, CO, MI)
2005—Banned from the Littleton curriculum and library shelves after complaints about its explicit sex, including the rape of an eleven-year-old girl by her father.  (CO)
2013— The board of education president in Ohio is criticizing the inclusion of the book on the Common Core Standard’s recommended reading list for 11th-graders, labeling the controversial work “pornographic,” and wishes to ban it from the classroom.
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
1993 – 2009—Challenged in five states due to its sexually explicitly language.  (OH, GA, FL, MD, MI)
1998—Removed from the St. Mary’s County Schools’ approved text list by the school superintendent overruling a faculty committee recommendation.  Complaints referred to the novel as “filth,” “trash,” and “repulsive.”  (MD)
Sula by Toni Morrison
2000—Challenged on the Poolesville High School reading list because of the book’s sexual content and language.  On October 5, 2000, Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Paul McGuckian dismissed the bid to band the work from the curriculum.  The school, however, decided to remove the book from the summer reading list.  (MD)
Learning Tree by Gordon Parks
1976 – 2006—Challenged seven times in seven states since publication.  (WY, MD, RI, WA, FL, MN, AL)
2006—Challenged on the summer reading list at LeFlore High School in Mobile becdause the author frequently used inappropriate words, such as “nigga,” “bitch,” “bastard,” and “ass.”  (AL)
The Black Poets edited by Randall Dudley
1982—Banned for use in English classrooms at the Tinley Park High School because the book “extols murder, rape, theft, incest, sodomy, and other acts.”  (IL)
Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold
1994—Challenged in the Spokane elementary school libraries because it stereotypes African Americans as eating fried chicken and watermelon and drinking beer at family picnics.  The book is based on the memories of its author’s family rooftop picnics in 1930’s Harlem.  The book won the 1992 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for its portrayal of minorities.  (WA)
Push by Sapphire
2005—Challenged, but retained at Fayetteville High School despite a parent’s complaint that it was sexually explicit.  The complainant also submitted a list of more than fifty books, citing the books as too sexually explicit and promoting homosexuality.  (AL)
The Friendship by Mildred Taylor
1997—Challenged, but retained in the Prince George’s County school system after a parent claimed that book has “no redeeming value.”  (MD)
The Land by Mildred Taylor
2008—Removed from the Turner Elementary School media center shelves in New Tampa as age inappropriate.  A parent challenged the book because the novel contains a racial epithet.  The book was a 2002 Coretta Scott King Author Award recipient.  (FL)
Mississippi Bridge by Mildred Taylor
2001—Challenged by retained at the Donahoe Elementary School library in Sandston despite objections of its “negative content and [that] it’s riddled with prejudice.”  The novel by the Newberry Medal-winning author tells the story of a young black man who tries to save white passengers in a bus accident, despite being ordered earlier to give up his seat to “white folks.”  (VA)
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
1993 – 2004—Challenged four times in four states.  (LA, CA, AL, FL).
Bloods: Black Veterans of the Vietnam War: An Oral History by Terry Wallace
1987—Banned from the West Hernando Middle School library in Spring Hill because of “harsh language and presents a moral danger to students.”  The librarian filled a grievance and the book was returned to the shelves following a ruling by the American Arbitration Association.  Forty minutes after the book was returned, the book was removed again, pending a review by an advisory committee.  (FL)
Down These Mean Streets by Thomas Piri
1976—Removed from the Island Trees Union Free School District High School library along with nine other titles because they were considered “immoral, anti-American, anti-Christian, or just plain filthy.”  Returned to the library after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on June 25, 1982 in Board of Education, Island Trees Union Free School District No. 26 et. al. v. Pico et. al., 457 U.S. 853 (1982).  (NY)
The Color Purple by Alice Walker 
1984 – 2008—Challenged eighteen times since publication.  (CA, VA, MI, TN, WY, NC, PA, CT, FL, OR, TX, WV, OH)
1985—Rejected for purchase by Hayward school trustees because of “rough language” and “explicit sex scenes”.  (CA)
The Temple of My Familiar by Alice Walker
1997—Removed from the Jackson County school libraries along with sixteen other titles.  (WV)
Jubilee by Margaret Walker
1977—Challenged in the Greenville County school libraries by the Titan of the Fourth Province of the Knights of the Klu Klux Klan because the novel produces “racial strife and hatred.”  (SC)
The Destruction of Black Civilization and The Origin of African Civilization by Chancellor Williams
1993—Challenged at the Prince George County high school libraries because the two volumes promote “racism against white people.”  In a complaint filed with the state, the works were called “racist pornography” written “to provoke emotions and actions of racial prejudice, bias, hatred, and hostility towards citizens and students in Maryland.”  (MD)
Black Boy by Richard Wright
1972 – 2007—Challenged nine times in seven states since publication.  (MI, LA, TN, NY, NE, TX, FL)
1987—Challenged in the Lincoln school libraries because of the novel’s “corruptive, obscene nature.”  (NE)
Native Son by Richard Wright
1981—Challenged in North Adam’s due to the book’s “violence, sex, and profanity.”  (MA)
1988—Challenged in the Hamilton High School curriculum in Fort Wayne because of the novel’s graphic language and sexual content.  (IN)
Original list appears at Bennett College Thomas F. Holgate Library.

NATIONAL BANNED BOOKS WEEK—SEPTEMBER 22 - 28, 2013

Challenged and Banned Books by and about African Americans

Young and Black In America by Rae Pace Alexander

1983—After the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union sued the Elk River School Board, the Board reversed its decision to restrict the title to students who have written permission from their parents.  (MN)

And the Walls Came Tumbling Down by Ralph D. Abernathy

1989—Burned protest in Denver because it alleges that Martin Luther King, Jr. was involved with three women.  E. Napoleon Walton, the publisher of the Denver Cosmopolitan Advertiser, stated, “[Abernathy] has his freedom of speech, and we have our freedom to burn it.”  (CO)

And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

1982—Challenged at the Northside High School in Lafayette, Louisiana.  (LA)

1987—Challenged at the Longview school system in Washington because some “students could be harmed by its graphic language.” (WA)

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

1983 – 2009—Over thirty-five challenges in twenty states since the book’s publication.

2009—Challenged in the Newman-Crows Landing School District on a required reading list presented by the Orestimba High English Department.  A trustee questioned the qualifications of Orestimba staff to teach a novel depicting African American culture.  (CA)

Another Country by James Baldwin

1963—Considered obscene, the book was banned from the New Orleans Public library.  After a year of litigation, it was restored.  (LA)

Blues for Mister Charlie by James Baldwin

1980—Challenged in Sioux Falls, South Dakota because it’s “pornographic,” and it “tears down Christian principles.” (SD).

Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin

1994—Challenged as required reading in the Hudson Falls Schools because the books has recurring themes of rape, masturbation, violence, and degrading treatment of women.  (NY)

1998—Challenged as a ninth-grade summer reading option in Prince William County because the book “was rife with profanity and explicit sex.”  (VA)

If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin

1989—Removed from the St. Paul High School Library because the book contains obscene language and explicit descriptions of sexual activity.  (OR)

Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone by James Baldwin

1983—Four members of the Alabama State Textbook Committee called for its rejection because Baldwin’s work preaches “bitterness and hatred against whites.”  (AL)

The Toilet by Amiri Baraka

1969—Expurgated at Eastern High School to eliminate “four-letter words or vernacular.”

Manchild in the Promised Land by Claude Brown

1974 – 1987—Challenged five times in four states.  (WI, FL, LA, OH, OR)

1987—Challenged at the Parkrose High School because the content is “violent, the language offensive, and women are degraded.”  The protestors also questioned its relevance, claiming that Parkrose students have no need to understand life in a black ghetto.  (OR)

A Hero Ain’t Nothin But a Sandwich by Alice Childress

1976 – 1994—Challenged five times in five states.  (NY, GA, TX, MD, SC)

1976—Removed from Island Trees School Union Free District High School library along with nine other titles because they were considered “immoral, anti-American, anti-Christian, or just plain filthy.”  (NY)

Rainbow Jordan by Alice Childress

1986—Challenged at the Gwinnett County public schools because of “foul language and sexual references.”  (GA)

1986—Banned from Spokane middle schools because the book’s storyline about a prostitute’s daughter was “too mature.”  (WA)

Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver

1969 -1979—Challenged five times in four states.  (CA, CT, NY, WA)

1975—Challenged at the Greenwich High School library because the book is “crime provoking and anti-American as well as obscene and pornographic.”  (CT)

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

1994—Retained in the Yakima schools after a five-month dispute over what advanced high school students should read in the classroom.  Two parents raised concerns about profanity and images of violence and sexuality in the book and requested that it be removed from the reading list.  (WA)

2013—North Carolina school board considers banning the book after the mother of an 11-grader complained, claiming Ellison’s work was inappropriate for 11th grade summer reading, citing both language and subject matter.

The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines

2006—Challenged as an eighth-grade district-wide reading assignment in the Puyallup schools because “racial slurs and stereotyping are used throughout the book, as well as scenes of sex, rape, and implied incest.”  

A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines

2004—Removed from the college bookstore at Louisiana College, Pineville by the college president “because a love scene described in the book clashes with the school’s Christian values.”  (LA)

My House by Nikki Giovanni

1992—Challenged by the Duval County public school libraries because it contains the word “nigger” and was accused of containing excessive vulgarity, racism, and sex.  (FL)

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

1979—Responding to criticism from an anti-pornography organization, the Ogden School District restricted circulation of Hansberry’s play.  (UT)

Nappy Hair by Carolivia Herron

1998—Challenged in Brooklyn because it was considered racially insensitive.  (NY)

The Best Short Stories By Negro Writers an Anthology From 1899 to the Present edited by Langston Hughes

1976—Removed from Island Trees School Union Free District High School library along with nine other titles because they were considered “immoral, anti-American, anti-Christian, or just plain filthy.”  (NY)

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

1997—Challenged for sexual explicitness, but retained on the Stonewall Jackson High School’s academically advanced reading list in Brentsville.  A parent objected to the novel’s language and sexual explicitness.

Call Me Charley by Jesse Jackson

1979—Parents of a black fourth-grade student filed suit against Grand Blanc school officials after a teacher read this title to their son’s class.  The work includes a black youth “Sambo,” “nigger,” and “coon.”

The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcom X with Alex Haley

1993—Challenged in the Duval County Public School district because the slain Black Muslim leader advocated anti-white racism and violence.  (FL)

Mirandy and Brother Wind by Patricia McKissack

1991—Challenged at the Glen Springs Elementary School in Gainesville, Florida, because of the book’s use of black dialect.  (FL)

Daddy Was a Number Runner by Louise Meriweather

1977—Removed from all Oakland junior high school libraries and its use restricted in senior high schools, following a complaint about the book’s explicit depiction of ghetto life.  (CA)

Beloved by Toni Morrison

1995 – 2007—Challenged seven times in six states since its publication.  (FL, TX, ME, IL, ID, & KY)

2007—Challenged in the Coeur d’Alene School District.  Some parents say the book along with five others should require parental permission for students to read them.  (ID)

2013—Parent wants the book removed because she believes it depicts scenes of bestiality, gang rape and an infant’s gruesome murder, content she believes could be too intense for teenage readers.

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

1994 – 2007—Challenged eleven times in nine states since publication.  (AK, PA, FL, MA, MD, NH, CA, CO, MI)

2005—Banned from the Littleton curriculum and library shelves after complaints about its explicit sex, including the rape of an eleven-year-old girl by her father.  (CO)

2013— The board of education president in Ohio is criticizing the inclusion of the book on the Common Core Standard’s recommended reading list for 11th-graders, labeling the controversial work “pornographic,” and wishes to ban it from the classroom.

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

1993 – 2009—Challenged in five states due to its sexually explicitly language.  (OH, GA, FL, MD, MI)

1998—Removed from the St. Mary’s County Schools’ approved text list by the school superintendent overruling a faculty committee recommendation.  Complaints referred to the novel as “filth,” “trash,” and “repulsive.”  (MD)

Sula by Toni Morrison

2000—Challenged on the Poolesville High School reading list because of the book’s sexual content and language.  On October 5, 2000, Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Paul McGuckian dismissed the bid to band the work from the curriculum.  The school, however, decided to remove the book from the summer reading list.  (MD)

Learning Tree by Gordon Parks

1976 – 2006—Challenged seven times in seven states since publication.  (WY, MD, RI, WA, FL, MN, AL)

2006—Challenged on the summer reading list at LeFlore High School in Mobile becdause the author frequently used inappropriate words, such as “nigga,” “bitch,” “bastard,” and “ass.”  (AL)

The Black Poets edited by Randall Dudley

1982—Banned for use in English classrooms at the Tinley Park High School because the book “extols murder, rape, theft, incest, sodomy, and other acts.”  (IL)

Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold

1994—Challenged in the Spokane elementary school libraries because it stereotypes African Americans as eating fried chicken and watermelon and drinking beer at family picnics.  The book is based on the memories of its author’s family rooftop picnics in 1930’s Harlem.  The book won the 1992 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for its portrayal of minorities.  (WA)

Push by Sapphire

2005—Challenged, but retained at Fayetteville High School despite a parent’s complaint that it was sexually explicit.  The complainant also submitted a list of more than fifty books, citing the books as too sexually explicit and promoting homosexuality.  (AL)

The Friendship by Mildred Taylor

1997—Challenged, but retained in the Prince George’s County school system after a parent claimed that book has “no redeeming value.”  (MD)

The Land by Mildred Taylor

2008—Removed from the Turner Elementary School media center shelves in New Tampa as age inappropriate.  A parent challenged the book because the novel contains a racial epithet.  The book was a 2002 Coretta Scott King Author Award recipient.  (FL)

Mississippi Bridge by Mildred Taylor

2001—Challenged by retained at the Donahoe Elementary School library in Sandston despite objections of its “negative content and [that] it’s riddled with prejudice.”  The novel by the Newberry Medal-winning author tells the story of a young black man who tries to save white passengers in a bus accident, despite being ordered earlier to give up his seat to “white folks.”  (VA)

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor

1993 – 2004—Challenged four times in four states.  (LA, CA, AL, FL).

Bloods: Black Veterans of the Vietnam War: An Oral History by Terry Wallace

1987—Banned from the West Hernando Middle School library in Spring Hill because of “harsh language and presents a moral danger to students.”  The librarian filled a grievance and the book was returned to the shelves following a ruling by the American Arbitration Association.  Forty minutes after the book was returned, the book was removed again, pending a review by an advisory committee.  (FL)

Down These Mean Streets by Thomas Piri

1976—Removed from the Island Trees Union Free School District High School library along with nine other titles because they were considered “immoral, anti-American, anti-Christian, or just plain filthy.”  Returned to the library after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on June 25, 1982 in Board of Education, Island Trees Union Free School District No. 26 et. al. v. Pico et. al., 457 U.S. 853 (1982).  (NY)

The Color Purple by Alice Walker 

1984 – 2008—Challenged eighteen times since publication.  (CA, VA, MI, TN, WY, NC, PA, CT, FL, OR, TX, WV, OH)

1985—Rejected for purchase by Hayward school trustees because of “rough language” and “explicit sex scenes”.  (CA)

The Temple of My Familiar by Alice Walker

1997—Removed from the Jackson County school libraries along with sixteen other titles.  (WV)

Jubilee by Margaret Walker

1977—Challenged in the Greenville County school libraries by the Titan of the Fourth Province of the Knights of the Klu Klux Klan because the novel produces “racial strife and hatred.”  (SC)

The Destruction of Black Civilization and The Origin of African Civilization by Chancellor Williams

1993—Challenged at the Prince George County high school libraries because the two volumes promote “racism against white people.”  In a complaint filed with the state, the works were called “racist pornography” written “to provoke emotions and actions of racial prejudice, bias, hatred, and hostility towards citizens and students in Maryland.”  (MD)

Black Boy by Richard Wright

1972 – 2007—Challenged nine times in seven states since publication.  (MI, LA, TN, NY, NE, TX, FL)

1987—Challenged in the Lincoln school libraries because of the novel’s “corruptive, obscene nature.”  (NE)

Native Son by Richard Wright

1981—Challenged in North Adam’s due to the book’s “violence, sex, and profanity.”  (MA)

1988—Challenged in the Hamilton High School curriculum in Fort Wayne because of the novel’s graphic language and sexual content.  (IN)

Original list appears at Bennett College Thomas F. Holgate Library.

Notes

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