It took just one letter from an angry parent to convince a North Carolina school district to remove Ralph Ellison‘s Invisible Man from school libraries in the county. A short board meeting prompted by a single letter — describing one of the most significant pieces of Black literature in American history as “filthy” — was all that five members of the Randolph County Board of Education needed to feel justified in voting to ban the novel last week.1 It’s just the kind of quiet injustice — and officially-sanctioned bias — that happens behind closed doors in towns across the country all of the time. But this time, we have an opportunity to push back.
Just days after Randolph’s decision made national headlines, the school board called an emergency special meeting for tonight regarding the ban.2 If a couple of bad press hits is enough to make Randolph reconsider, imagine how powerful thousands of our voices can be.
The Board is meeting TONIGHT. Will you join us in demanding that the school board reverse its decision and return Invisible Man to library shelves? It only takes a moment.
This isn’t the first time in recent months that books by Black authors depicting American racism have been attacked. Earlier this month, the president of the Ohio Board of Education called Toni Morrison‘s The Bluest Eye “pornographic.”3 And in July, a Detroit-area school district came under fire for dumping a collection of over 10,000 volumes of invaluable Black books and artifacts.4 Enough is enough.
Banning Black stories not only alienates Black students, it denies all students the opportunity to engage with and discuss important themes like racial enmity in society and the development of personal identity. For elected officials concerned with the education of our young people, it’s particularly perverse that Randolph’s school board failed to recognize the irony of banning a book that’s about silencing critical voices and the ways in which racist culture restricts individuals from reaching their full human potential.
Please join us in calling on the Randolph County school board to reverse its book ban at tonight’s meeting. Together we can send a message about the critical value of Black literature in our schools.
Thanks and Peace,
–Rashad, Arisha, Matt, Kim, Hannah, Johnny and the rest of the ColorOfChange team.
September 25th, 2013
Help support our work. ColorOfChange.org is powered by YOU—your energy and dollars. We take no money from lobbyists or large corporations that don’t share our values, and our tiny staff ensures your contributions go a long way
1. “Invisible Man Banned: Ralph Ellison’s Landmark Novel Banned From School Libraries,” Huffington Post, 09-19-13
2. “Board to reconsider its ‘Invisible Man’ ban,” Asheboro Courier-Tribune, 09-20-13
3. “ACLU to Ohio schools leader: Toni Morrison’s ‘The Bluest Eye’ not porn,” News Channel 5, 09-12-13
4. “Discarded Black history books incite protests in Detroit,” Amsterdam News, 08-10-13