The Randolph County (NC) Board of Education is reconsidering its recent ban of Ralph Ellison’s classic novel Invisible Man (Random House, 1952) from its school libraries, Asheboro’s local newspaper The Courier-Tribune reports. The board voted 5-2 last week to remove the book from school library shelves, but members have agreed to hold a special meeting on Wednesday, September 25, to reconsider the book’s status.
Although a reason for the reconsideration has not been given, the removal was met with letters of protest from local, state, and national advocates, and the story was reported in at least one European media outlet, according to the The Courier-Tribune. The newspaper also reports that free copies of the book are being made available to high school students in the county thanks to the efforts of a former Randolph County resident, who secured a donation from publisher Vintage Books, a division of Random House.
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, and overrode the recommendations of committees at both the school and district levels that it not be removed.