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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee taken off Mississippi school reading list

The Guardian

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee’s classic novel about racism and the American south, has been removed from a junior-high reading list in a Mississippi school district because the language in the book “makes people uncomfortable”.

The Sun Herald reported that administrators in Biloxi pulled the novel from the 8th-grade curriculum this week.  

Kenny Holloway, vice-president of the Biloxi school board, told the newspaper: “There were complaints about it. There is some language in the book that makes people uncomfortable, and we can teach the same lesson with other books. It’s still in our library. But they’re going to use another book in the eighth-grade course.”

A message on the Biloxi schools website said To Kill a Mockingbird teaches students that compassion and empathy do not depend upon race or education.

Published in 1960, Lee’s Pulitzer-winning novel deals with racial inequality in a small Alabama town, in the aftermath of an alleged rape of a white woman for which a black man is tried. It has sold more than 40m copies and it was made into a film in 1962, winning three Oscars.

An email to the Sun Herald from a concerned reader referred to the book’s use of the word “nigger” when it said the school board’s decision was made “mid-lesson plan”.

“The students will not be allowed to finish the reading of To Kill a Mockingbird,” the email said “… due to the use of the ‘N’ word.”

The newspaper quoted the reader as writing: “I think it is one of the most disturbing examples of censorship I have ever heard, in that the themes in the story humanize all people regardless of their social status, education level, intellect, and of course, race. It would be difficult to find a time when it was more relevant than in days like these.”

The Sun Herald reported that school board superintendent Arthur McMillan did not answer any questions about the withdrawal. The book has been withdrawn from schools before, in 2016 in Virginia.

Lee died last year at the age of 89, after the discovery and controversial publication of a second novel, Go Set a Watchman, that describes events after those depicted in To Kill a Mockingbird. In June this year, the author’s estate approved plans for a graphic novel version of the first book.

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9 Responses to To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee taken off Mississippi school reading list

  1. NC says:

    Those who forget history or fail to learn from it are doomed to repeat it.


    WHAT HAPPENED TO MY COMMENT??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  3. DL. says:

    I really don’t think this is just about using the “n” word. It’s more about taking good or great literature out of schools and replacing with garbage; next thing you know, no Shakespeare, no Charles Dickens, no Romantic poets… Then again, are students in public schools these days even capable of reading great literature? Oh, I know, they can watch the movie instead… (BTW, the book is far better than the movie, and that was a good movie too!)

    • Henry Shivley says:

      My children and grandchildren are avid readers. And I know a lot of good people that read to learn and for pleasure. 🙂

  4. CaptainObvious says:

    The book was also removed from required reading list for all Middle Schools in Amarillo TX in the last several weeks.
    Divide and Conquer.
    Pushed to the limits in America by the (((tribe))).

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