As noted here yesterday, it’s not at all clear that the book banning efforts of religious conservatives in the Brunswick County schools were put to rest with the recent vote to keep Alice Walker’s The Color Purple on the reading list for some students. Happily, the good folks at the ACLU of North Carolina are digging a little deeper to find out what’s really going on and what’s behind the book banning efforts. This was released this morning:
BOLIVIA, NC – The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation (ACLU-NCLF) yesterday sent a public records request to the Brunswick County Board of Education and the Brunswick County Board of Commissioners seeking all communications between officials related to recent efforts to ban Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Color Purple,” from Brunswick County Advanced Placement (AP) English classes.
The public records request, filed under North Carolina public records laws, also seeks communications regarding any other proposed curriculum changes or plans for banning other works of literature from Brunswick County public schools going back to the 2012-2013 school year.
“The public deserves the know the real motivation and goals behind this disturbing movement to ban classic works of literature from Brunswick County public schools,” said Chris Brook, Legal Director for the ACLU-NCLF, which has closely monitored the situation and had staff members present at board meetings. “Some Brunswick County officials have suggested that seeking to ban ‘The Color Purple’ may just be a first step in a much larger campaign to purge public school curriculum. We have been contacted by many local citizens who object to these attacks on the freedom to read and who are concerned about where this all may lead. We continue to urge the board to support academic freedom and reject calls to ban or make it harder for students to read great works of literature that promote critical thinking and dialogue.”
On January 3, the Brunswick County Board of Education voted 3-2 to uphold a decision by the county superintendent to keep “The Color Purple” as part of AP high school curriculum. The vote came after the board received public testimony from parents, students, educators, and community members. The board’s policy committee will next meet on January 21.
In September 2013, the Randolph County Board of Education voted to reverse an earlier vote banning Ralph Ellison’s literary classic, “Invisible Man,” from Randolph County schools.
The ACLU-NCLF’s public records requests to Brunswick County officials are available here: