As A Former Duluth High School Student, Here Are My Thoughts On The Removal Of “To Kill A Mockingbird” From The Curriculum
Two novels "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" have been removed from required reading in the Duluth school district due to both books using racial slurs. Here are my thoughts on it.
This move was supported by the local NAACP chapter. I totally get their reasoning and understand their stance on the issue. Both books have a lot of racial slurs in them and kids need to know it's not okay to use those slurs. I wanted to share my thoughts on the subject because I feel that if kids are lead down the right path educational wise, they'll understand these racial slurs are not okay to use.
I never read "Huckleberry Finn", but I did read "Mockingbird" in 9th grade. I absolutely loved it and I am normally not a fan of books (I prefer movies). To me, "Mockingbird" breaks down barriers and was an eyeopener. From the novel I learned you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover and everyone should be treated equally.
According to Cliffnotes, the novel is "told through the eyes of Scout Finch, you learn about her father Atticus Finch, an attorney who hopelessly strives to prove the innocence of a black man unjustly accused of rape; and about Boo Radley, a mysterious neighbor who saves Scout and her brother Jem from being killed."
Philosopher George Santayana once said:
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it
Which has since been translated to "Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it". A lot of awful stuff has happened in the past, and I feel it's important to remember those things so we don't repeat it. We as a nation need to learn from our mistakes. "Mockingbird" was set in the southern states during the Great Depression where racism ran rampant. I honestly feel "Mockingbird" is an important book that should be read so kids can grow up learning what not to do.
Author Harper Lee who won the pulitzer prize for her novel even wrote a letter to the Hanover County School District in 1966 after hearing her novel was banned. You can read the full letter here. In the letter she states:
"To Kill a Mockingbird" spells out in words of seldom more than two syllables a code of honor and conduct, Christian in its ethic, that is the heritage of all Southerners.
Yes, there are other books that we can learn lessons from, but "Mockingbird" is such a powerful novel in my eyes, I feel like it can't be replaced. Again, I understand the concern and I respect the school's decision and the NAACP's stand. Both books are still available in the school libraries, but are no longer required reading. I just wanted to share a few thoughts on how I felt.