North Carolina School Board’s ban of Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man”


Well, here we go again. With impeccable timing (just in time for Banned Books Week!), a county school board (the picture below is from their website) in North Carolina recently voted 5-2 to remove an acknowledged literary classic, Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” from their library and reading list for students. This was after a complaint by a junior student’s mother who submitted the required forms and detailed supporting documentation. (Copies of all this may be found in the source material link below)

When the individual school she registered her complaint with decided not to take any action, she appealed the decision to the Randolph County school board. Her appeal, poorly written, included a ‘warning’ that “I and other companies are looking into other ways of having great attention come to this matter publicly.” The board caved and voted to remove the book. There has been a lot of negative public reaction to this censorship, and a special meeting has been scheduled for tomorrow. From the agenda, it looks like they will be reconsidering the decision and voting again. The meeting is at five p.m. EST tomorrow (9/25), and I will pause in my day & have a moment of silence of my own (concurrent with the scheduled moment of silence in their agenda) to hope that the board this time realizes the perils of censorship and where it may lead. I urge you to do the same.

Source material for tomorrow’s special board meeting:


Below, the county’s Board of Education. All but the vice-chair Emily Coltrane and Todd Cutler have initially voted to “ban” the book. Board member Mason was quoted as saying “I didn’t find any literary merit” in the book. I am curious what his background is, and on what basis he made that determination. The materials and news that I’ve read on this story did not provide any additional info.