By: The Editorial Board
A western North Carolina superintendent made news this month for the removal of Dear Martin from a 10th grade English class. The book tells the story of an aspiring Black student attending an Ivy League university who becomes the victim of racial profiling. The book tackles the nation’s race relations with a clear homage to Martin Luther King, Jr’s guidance and wisdom.
The book’s removal happened days before MLK Day.
From The News & Observer:
Superintendent Bill Nolte, who has previously been under fire for sharing anti-Black Facebook posts, didn’t read the book before pulling it. In the span of a few hours, he says he spoke to people who had “read sections of it,” read parts of it online, and decided there was too much swearing for a class of 15-year-olds, according to his interview with the Popular Information newsletter. Nolte didn’t discuss the decision with the teacher before making the decision, nor was the initial complaint in line with the school’s policies on making a complaint.
The speed and lack of contemplation about such a decision is alarming. It’s worth repeating what we said months ago: books are the best opportunity for young people to experience worlds outside of their own, especially in the state’s rural, predominantly white communities.
The incident in Haywood County mirrors several challenges happening across the country as Republicans campaign for the censorship of hundreds of books that highlight race, gender, and sexual orientation.
Thirty-five states have introduced bills or taken other steps to censor how teachers educate students, and over 330 books have been challenged since last fall.
Book bans appear to be a natural extension of Republicans’ attempt to use race, gender and LGBTQ+ issues to further divide the nation.
In response to the GOP’s censorship campaign, communities are speaking up at school board meetings to combat the erasure of historical figures, movements, and events from our nation’s history.
Recently, a group made up of suburban moms called Red Wine and Blue, has launched an interactive map showing where books have either been banned or are being banned across the nation, including North Carolina.