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Ralph Ellison’s race classic “Invisible Man” banned in North Carolina

The novel has been banned after having been assigned as summer reading in a district under fire for school prayer


Students in Randolph County, North Carolina won’t have access to “Invisible Man.”

That county’s board of education voted 5-2 this week to remove all copies of the Ralph Ellison novel from school libraries, following a parental complaint about the book’s content and language when it was assigned as summer reading in local Randleman High School. “It was a hard read,” said board chair Tommy McDonald, who voted in favor of the ban.

Another board member said, “I didn’t find any literary value.”

“Invisible Man,” which won the National Book Award upon its 1953 publication and which has a place on the Modern Library’s list of the 100 best novels of the twentieth century, appraises the social conditions surrounding blacks in the decades before the eventual civli rights movement; the protagonist is invisible because white society refuses to see him.

The book’s fate is uncertain; a Randleman High School committee has recommended the book remain on shelves there. Randleman has recently been a flashpoint for civil liberties, with the ACLU demanding this month that the school stop invocations of the Lord’s Prayer at football games.

Daniel D'Addario is a staff reporter for Salon's entertainment section. Follow him on Twitter @DPD_


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