Banned Books Week: African-American Classics Barred From Classrooms

Invisible Man, The Bluest Eye and more.

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Banned Books Week - Banned Books Week, from Sept. 22-28, is an annual celebration of the freedom to read, sponsored by the American Library Association. A North Carolina school board banned Ralph Ellison’s 1952 classic Invisible Man just last week. Take a look at other literature by or about African-Americans that has been banned from schools and libraries across the nation. — Dominique Zonyéé (Photo: Heinrich van den Berg/Getty Images)

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison - A Randolph County, North Carolina, school board banned Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison in September because they could not find ?any literary value? in the 1952 classic. However, the school board rescinded its ban on Sept. 25, returning it to local high school libraries.(Photo: Courtesy of Random House)

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Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison - A Randolph County, North Carolina, school board banned Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison in September because they could not find “any literary value” in the 1952 classic. However, the school board rescinded its ban on Sept. 25, returning it to local high school libraries.(Photo: Courtesy of Random House)

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - Harper Lee?s emotionally charged novel To Kill a Mockingbird has faced as much scrutiny as it has praise since it was published in 1960. In the past decade, schools in Tennessee, New Jersey, North Carolina and Illinois have removed it from the curriculum because its uses of the word ?n----r? and explores racism and incest.(Photo: Courtesy of J.B. Lippincott & Co.)

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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - Harper Lee’s emotionally charged novel To Kill a Mockingbird has faced as much scrutiny as it has praise since it was published in 1960. In the past decade, schools in Tennessee, New Jersey, North Carolina and Illinois have removed it from the curriculum because its uses of the word “n----r” and explores racism and incest.(Photo: Courtesy of J.B. Lippincott & Co.)

The Bluest Eye  - A year after Angelou?s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was published, Morrison?s first book, The Bluest Eye, was published in 1970.The novel instantly became an American classic as it exposed American concepts of self-identity and beauty.(Photo: Courtesy of Vintage Publishing)

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The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison - Parents of a Colorado school district petitioned for Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye to be removed from an 11th grade reading list in 2013 due to its its “explicit sexual scenes, describing incest, rape, and pedophilia.”(Photo: Courtesy of Vintage Publishing)

Uncle Tom?s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe - Published in 1882, this American classic was written in response to the passage of the second Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, which declared that all runaway slaves be brought back to their masters. The book immediately enraged white Southerners and was banned for a time in many parts of the South. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

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Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe - Published in 1882, this American classic was written in response to the passage of the second Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, which declared that all runaway slaves be brought back to their masters. The book immediately enraged white Southerners and was banned for a time in many parts of the South. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

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The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley - The Autobiography of Malcolm X, written by activist Malcolm X and Alex Haley, was ridiculed and described as a ?how-to-manual? for crime based on its anti-white rhetoric. (Photo: Courtesy of Grove Press)

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The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley - The Autobiography of Malcolm X, written by activist Malcolm X and Alex Haley, was ridiculed and described as a “how-to-manual” for crime based on its anti-white rhetoric. (Photo: Courtesy of Grove Press)

Song of Solomon - By 1977, Morrison had already published two highly respected novels, and that year she returned with her first book featuring a leading male character in Song of Solomon. This book won the National Book Critics Award, was featured in Oprah?s Book Club in 1996 and eventually helped her win a Noble Peace Price in 1993.(Photo: Courtesy of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

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Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison - For every accolade author Toni Morrison has achieved, there have been countless objections to teaching her novels in schools. Her 1977 classic, Song of Solomon, was banned by a Shelby, Michigan, high school in 2009 after parents complained of its profanity, sexual references and violence.(Photo: Courtesy of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - At the urging of her friend, author James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, who was already an accomplished dancer, linguist and lecturer, penned her first in a series of eight autobiographies. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings details the first 17 years of her life and issues of rape, identity and motherhood.  (Photo: Courtesy of Random House)

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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou - Acclaimed Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was challenged at schools across the nation in 1994. However, schools in Texas, Colorado and Iowa put up the most resistance asserting that the book “encouraged pre-marital sex, homosexuality, and the use of profanity.”(Photo: Courtesy of Random House)

Jambo Means Hello: The Swahili Alphabet by Muriel Feelings - Although Jambo Means Hello: The Swahili Alphabet was meant to help teach white children better understand Black culture, schools in New York banned the book in 1994 because it was allegedly ?degrading to white children.?  It was re-instated in the curriculum shortly after. (Photo: Courtesy of Penguin Books)

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Jambo Means Hello: The Swahili Alphabet by Muriel Feelings - Although Jambo Means Hello: The Swahili Alphabet was meant to help teach white children better understand Black culture, schools in New York banned the book in 1994 because it was allegedly “degrading to white children.”  It was re-instated in the curriculum shortly after. (Photo: Courtesy of Penguin Books)

The Color Purple by Alice Walker - Clich? or not, Alice Walker's National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Color Purple, deserves to be on any and every reading list, especially those with an LGBT focus. The landmark novel tells the story of Celie, a southern Black woman who suffers a lifetime of abuse from her father and, later, her husband before meeting Shug, a sultry, confident blues singer whose sisterhood helps Celie to come into her own.(Photo: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich)

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The Color Purple by Alice Walker - Nearly every year since Alice Walker published The Color Purple in 1982, schools across the nation have challenged the book. The book was removed from the shelves of a Virginia school library in 1986 because of its “profanity and sexual references;” and deemed too “mature” for high school students in California in 1984 and 1985.(Photo: Courtesy of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich)