December 10, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

NC School Board Reverses Ban on Ellison’s ‘Invisible Man’

The Randolph County (NC) Board of Education has reversed its recent ban of Ralph Ellison’s classic novel Invisible Man (Random House, 1952) by a vote of 6 to 1, Asheboro’s local newspaper The Courier-Tribune reports. The board had voted 5 to 2 last week to remove the book from its school library shelves, but members had agreed to hold this week’s special meeting to reconsider the book’s status after news of the ban received national and international attention from literary advocates.

Notably, the restoration of the book to Randolph County’s school libraries comes during this week’s national annual celebration of annual Banned Books Week.

The bestselling Invisible Man describes the experience of the unnamed narrator’s life growing up in a black community in the South and the dramatic turns his life takes after moving to New York. It is widely hailed as a masterpiece of American literature for its exploration of racism and bigotry. It was one of three books from which Randleman High School juniors could choose for summer reading for the 2013–2014 school year, along with John Howard Griffin’s Black Like Me and Nella Larsen’s Passing.

Last week’s vote, which removed all copies of the book from school libraries, came in response to a Randleman High School parent’s complaint about the book’s language and sexual content, overriding the recommendations of committees at both the school and district levels that it not be removed.

Karyn M. Peterson About Karyn M. Peterson

Karyn M. Peterson ( is a former News Editor ofSLJ.