In recent weeks, New Hanover residents have come out to the NHC school board meetings to protest the banning of “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You” from one high school’s curriculum.
Despite residents arguing for the book, in a 4-3 vote, the conservative-leaning school board voted to temporarily remove the book from the district’s classrooms.
“Those who do not read, do not learn. These AP kids will be the future leaders of our country. Everyone needs to know how other people feel, whether you agree or not is up to you, and that was clearly stated in the AP syllabus. It is a controversial class; it is a college-taught class,” stated Hugh McManus, one of three board members, who opposed to removing the book.
“Stamped,” by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi was taught as part of last year’s A.P. Language and Composition curriculum at Ashley High School.
Since last fall, members associated with far-right groups have spearheaded book banning and censorship efforts across the New Hanover area, including the banning of Stamped.
Residents and educators have pushed back against the targeted removals of books, particularly written by Black, Brown, LGBTQ+ authors; with hundreds of residents gathering outside the Board of Education building on the night before one of the book’s hearings.
“Very disappointed with the decision that was made. I was not in favor of any restriction any removal any way you want to say it. To me, it’s a ban, it’s a removal for students,” stated Stephanie Walker, a board member who opposed the removal.
According to PEN America, more than 1,477 individual books have been banned, affecting 874 unique titles, during the first half of the 2022-2023 school year.
Nationwide, over 100 titles are removed from classrooms every month.