‘Invisible Man’ Reappears On NC School Library Bookshelves


Just 10 days after the Randolph County Board of Education banned Ralph Ellison's classic 1952 'Invisible Man,' from school libraries, it has reversed the decision after violent repercussions from hundreds of county residents.

Initially, the North Carolina school board said 'No' to the novel after Kimiyutta Parson, the mother of a Randleman High School student filed a complaint saying that the book chosen for a summer reading program was 'not so innocent' and 'too much for teenagers.' The mother particularly opposed to the book's language, sexual content and depictions of rape and incest

'Invisible Man' is a regular feature in the curriculum of high school and college literature classes in the U.S. Based on alienation and racial discrimination, the book won the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction in 1953; ranked No. 19 on Modern Library's list of the 100 greatest novels of the 20th century and named by the Library of Congress as one of the 'Books That Shaped America.'

Ellison, who died in 1994, explores African American angst and the effects of racism on its perpetrators and its victims.

Several board members feel that their initial decision to ban the book was taken in haste.

"We may have been hammered on this and we may have made a mistake, but at least we're big enough to admit it,'' Board member Gary Cook, who had earlier voted for the ban but reversed himself Wednesday, told LA Times

"I felt like I came to a conclusion too quickly," board member Matthew Lambeth told Reuters. Lambeth too banned the book in the first vote.

"I think banning any book is abhorrent, but banning a book that's so undeniably great is incredibly upsetting," Evan Smith Rakoff, a New York-based writer and Web editor, told Reuters.

"That's just not right. That book is timeless. How can they ban it based on one person's complaint?" Shakema Steele, 15, an Asheboro 10th-grader told LA Times.

Both Parson and Gary Masonis (the only board member) are unhappy with the decision. Parson still claims that the book is not appropriate for young teenagers. "School libraries are not public libraries,'' Parson told LA Times.

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