NC school system lifts ban on “Invisible Man”
ASHEBORO (AP) — The Randolph County Board of Education voted Wednesday to rescind its ban on Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man,” returning it to local high school libraries.
The Courier-Tribune of Asheboro reports the board voted 6-1 at a special meeting to reverse the ban it issued 10 days ago. The board voted 5-2 on Sept. 16 to pull the book from high school library shelves.
The initial decision came in reaction to a complaint from the mother of a Randleman High School student who said the book was “too much for teenagers.” The mother specifically objected to the book’s language and sexual content.
A statement from the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation applauded the reversal.
“Tonight, the Randolph County Board of Education righted a wrong. The freedom to read is just as essential to a healthy democracy as the freedom of speech and all other rights protected by the U.S. Constitution,” foundation legal director Chris Brook said.
“This episode should serve as a valuable reminder to students, teachers, parents, and school officials across the state of our ongoing duty to promote academic freedom, ensure the free exchange of ideas and information, and reject the always looming threat that censorship and suppression, for any reason, pose to a free society,” Brook said.
“Invisible Man” is a first-person narrative by a black man who considers himself socially invisible. It was originally published in 1952. The ban sparked local reaction and led to media attention across the nation.
Before the meeting, Donald Matthews, president of the Randolph County chapter of the NAACP, released a letter to the county school board stating that local NAACP members disagree with the book ban. On Wednesday, a local book store began distributing free copies of the book contributed by the publisher to county high school students.