Biloxi, Mississippi School Board Temporarily Removes ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ From Curriculum – West English Teachers Reflect

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Johnathon Tews

In the middle of October, Biloxi, Mississippi banned Harper Lee’s top-selling novel To Kill a Mockingbird in their eighth grade classes. The book’s use of racial slurs was the major reason for the banning according to The Washington Post.  The New York Times quoted Kenny Holloway, the Vice President of the Biloxi School Board, as saying, “There is some language in the book that makes people uncomfortable, and we can teach the same lesson with other books.”

West English teachers disagree with the banning of the book.  English teacher Mr. Crowley explained, “At its core [To Kill a Mockingbird is] a book about social justice. It reminds you that the key to being socially just is to imagine what it is like to walk in other people’s skin.” He goes on to explain that in order for any justice to ever really occur you must see the world as others do. For those reasons, he says banning the book in Illinois would be “uncalled for.”

Fellow English teacher Mrs. Schewe said, “[To Kill a Mockingbird] is one of those books that has an impact on a person.” She continued by saying that the book being written with Scout as the narrator results in seeing things through a child’s eyes, providing “an interesting perspective through the whole circumstance.”

Just over a week after the banning, the Biloxi School Board said they would give students the option to read, or refuse to read, the book. The major reason for this option was the backlash of teachers and students alike throughout the United States, according to The New York Times.