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Ellison’s Invisible Man banned from Randolph County Schools

Ralph Ellison wrote Invisible Man in 1952, which addressed many of the challenges African-Americans faced in American society during the early 20th century–and continue to face today. The novel won the U.S. National Book award in 1953 and is on high school reading lists across the United States.

This week, the Randolph County School Board banned the book from its shelves, prompted by a complaint by one parent who found the book to be salacious and not age appropriate.

All school board members were given a copy of the book to read in advance of their vote deciding whether or not to keep the book on the library shelves in Randolph County Schools. Board members Tommy McDonald said he found the book difficult to read and Gary Mason said he found no literary value in its pages.

A school media advisory council and a district committee advised the board to keep the book in school libraries, but members voted to ban the book anyway.

Read the Courier-Tribune‘s full story here.

 

3 Comments

  1. Anton Selessi

    September 21, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    Enjoyed the article…for a non-fiction account of interracial relationships in early America, google and read a book titled “Color Struck! by Ray Charles. In the book, which is a compilation of wills; petitions; laws and commentary, Ray shows that sexually, all who were subjected to the color line crossed it, and in most cases, WILLINGLY, as a result, America tried unsuccessfully to legislate itself out of the Melting Pot.

  2. Jef Powers

    September 23, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    It should be noted that great American novels [as well a great Russian or French or etc., etc… novels] are more than often concerned with complex, quite disturbing, and provocative issues. If every book was simply another Hardy Boys Mystery [a delightful series BTW] then Norman Rockwell [certainly one of our finest dauber/illustrators] would be the only American painter.

    So, some nice mom in Asheboro, NC isn’t entirely comfortable with the more gruesome aspects of Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man”. Okay, I can certainly understand that but we all must realize the irony of the fact that it is this very “discomfort” that Mr. Ellison is in many ways attempting to evoke in the reader. He wasn’t writing a Harlequin Romance. He was divulging to a larger American audience a real, bitter, and darkly cloaked verity of which they had little knowledge.

    “Invisible Man” is a profound and, yes, unsettling work of art. It will continue to offend and rattle moms and school board members for decades to come. But please, don’t miss the forest for the trees.
    All the nudes displayed at the North Carolina Museum of Art out on Blue Ridge Rd can’t be removed because mom is offended.

    Imagine a world where the merit and meaning of important literary art and its significance is left to one credulous, unread mom and five blockheaded school board members from Asheboro, NC to adjudicate.

    ‘Invisible Man’ has “no literary value”? Come on folks; get real. I double dog guarantee you that the board member who said that hadn’t read four whole books in his entire sad life. Try to imagine showing yourself off to be that lowbred in public.

  3. Amanda Frank

    September 26, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    I’ve never understood why book are banned. We teach and learn through books, that’s the beauty of authors having the freedom to write about different topics; controversial or not. I personally enjoy books that push the boundaries, especially when having to do with race or taboo topics. Although I’ve never read “Invisible Man”, I will definitely be picking it up. I’d love to recommend another book that, considering the topic and time period, is very interesting. It’s called “The Children of Gavrilek” by Julie Kirtón Chandler, http://www.juliekirtonchandler.com; it’s been a fantastic read. Thanks for this great article!