Libraries and book stores have celebrated the week by having promotions and educating readers on its history.
However, Randolph County School Board in North Carolina voted 5-2 recently to ban ‘Invisible Man’ from school library shelves. Yet, about a week later, the same board voted 6-1 to re-instate Ralph Ellison’s book, according to The Courier-Tribune.
It’s interesting to see that these kinds of fights are continually going on – all for the sake of the children. But even more remarkable was turnaround of the board members and their admittance that they feel they made a mistake.
From the local newspaper, The Courier-Tribune:
Board member Matthew Lambeth led off the discussion, apologizing for not personally seeking counsel from the board’s legal adviser, teachers and the superintendent before voting last week. He said he read the book twice, once in college and again three weeks ago after receiving a copy.
He explained that as a college freshman it gave him a perspective he had never seen, having been raised in a “very white background.” However, he said he took issue about the “explicit accounts” related to incest and rape with which he was familiar because of incidents affecting individuals he knew.
Board member Tracy Boyles said he had wondered as he drove home from the last meeting whether he had made the right decision. Reading emails which he and other board members received made him realize that he didn’t have the right to subject his morals on others. “I can’t cast them on someone else; it’s the job of parents to do so.”
He also reflected on his son being in the Air Force and “in war twice. … He was fighting for these rights. I’m casting a vote to take them away. Is it right of me? No.”
Many of the board members agree the decision was done in haste, but it’s reassuring to think that people can reflect on their choices. Sometimes they will backtrack and see others’ points of view and sometimes they will stand by their initial decision. I think the important thing is to get as many viewpoints on the topic and listen to all sides before making a decision.
I, for one, am happy to see this book back in this county’s schools.