MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – District officials in Duluth schools have removed the novels “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” from the required reading list so as to not subject high school students to the books’ use of a racial slur.
Michael Carry, the district’s director of curriculum and instruction, told The Duluth News Tribune that the books will still be optional reading and available in the school libraries, but they’ll be replaced next year by other books that touch the same topics without language that makes students uncomfortable.
“We felt that we could still teach the same standards and expectations through other novels that didn’t require students to feel humiliated or marginalized by the use of racial slurs,” Cary said.
While administrators said that no single incident prompted the reading list change, there have been complaints about the books’ use of a racial slur in the past.
According to the newspaper, the president of the local chapter of the NAACP praised the district’s decision.
“There are a lot more authors out there with better literature that can do the same thing that does not degrade our people,” Stephan Witherspoon said. “I’m glad they’re making the decision and it’s long overdue, like 20 years overdue.”
“To Kill a Mockingbird” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” had been required reading in Duluth’s ninth- and 11th-grade English classes.