LA School Librarian Successfully Defends ‘The Undefeated’ Against Censors

Amanda Jones, 2021 School Librarian of the Year, was supported by her principal and district leadership while handling a challenge to the award-winning book.

Librarian Amanda Jones and The Undefeated book cover


Amanda Jones, librarian at Live Oak Middle School in Watson, LA, received three parent complaints after a lesson using the award-winning The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander. The parents alleged that by using the book, she was “teaching Black Lives Matter ‘propaganda.’ ”

Jones, a 2021 School Librarian of the Year, was supported by her principal and district leadership. As administrator of her library’s Facebook page, she deleted a comment by a parent alleging that Jones “was supporting BLM and showing videos of protestors harming police.” Jones then called the parent to discuss the situation, which ended productively.

“She was very hostile at first, but I kept a calm voice and explained everything,” says Jones. “I told her about Kadir Nelson’s illustrations and The Undefeated’s awards. I sent her a link for her to read the ebook so she could check it out herself. By the end of the conversation, she apologized and things were good.”

Despite the positive outcome in this situation and a good reputation and relationship with the community, Jones doesn’t feel optimistic about the future.

“I do fear that attempts to ban books will be coming to our community soon, based on posts from local legislators and political groups,” she says. “For now, I think that my positive reputation will only go so far in the community if attempts at banning books start taking place, and [I] expect school librarians to be personally attacked and smeared. I hope not, though.”

Censorship Stories from SLJ's Tips Hotline 
Anatomy of a Challenge: A Book Ban in Leander, Texas Presaged a Pattern of Challenges Nationwide
What’s It Like to Be the Target of A Book Banning Effort? School Librarian Martha Hickson Tells Her Story.
Courage Is Contagious: Martha Hickson’s story is the inspiration that we need



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