"Invisible Man" Headed Back to Shelves in Randolph County Schools

10:50 PM, Sep 25, 2013   |    comments
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ASHEBORO, N.C. -- The novel, Invisible Man, will soon be back on the shelves in Randolph County.

The book was banned for a little more than a week before the Randolph County Board of Education voted to reverse their decision.

READ: Randolph Co. Bans Book After Parent Complaint

In July, a Randolph County parent wrote a letter to district sharing her concerns Invisible Man is too mature for teenagers.

She listed her objections in the note as "details of sexual encounters, incest, rape," and more.

The board of education voted to ban Invisible Man last week and it wasn't long before the uproar began.

The banning got the attention of a New York man and former Randolph County resident.

READ: Banned Copies of "Invisible Man" Donated to Students

Evan Smith Rakoff organized a book giveaway for Randolph County high school students. Wednesday, nearly one hundred students received free copies of Invisible Man from the Books-A-Million in Asheboro.

Matthew Hardin, a high school senior, says banning the book was a violation of his Constitutional right.

"When I imagine someone eviscerating something, I imagine it being torn to shreds, burned, and that's what they are doing here. They might as well be standing on the front lawn, throwing books into a huge fire," explained Hardin.

"One parent can get a book banned? First of all, second of all. I understand the county commissioner said he read it and didn't see any literary value in it. This book was rated one of the top 100 books of the last century - so I don't know what he considers literary value, but he missed to boat on that one," explained Sandi Campbell, a parent.

Campbell donated a copy of Invisible Man to a high school student. She said she was "outraged" the district banned it.

At a special called meeting Wednesday night, board members reversed their vote in a 6-1 vote.

WFMY News 2's Morgan Hightower was at the meeting and spoke to BOE Chairman Tommy McDonald.

McDonald said he changed his vote after hearing from teachers about the literary importance of "Invisible Man."

"How much they used it, reading it myself, and I did read it, my wife read it, I would not want my high school child to be exposed to those things. I just think they're too young at that level. Put it in college, put it in public libraries, I don't have a problem with that but I have come to really find out, it's not really about that, that's not issue.

The issues is that that book should be in there if you want to read it or if I want to read it, and that's the decision I made tonight," said McDonald.

He added, "Getting the information we didn't have earlier was a turning point for me."

Board member Matthew Lambeth also changed his vote to overturn the ban.

"Boards of education cannot make these decisions based on personal perspective but instead that we have to evaluate educational quality and integrity of the work and obviously Ellison's book has that," said Lambeth.

The parent whose letter helped lead to the banning of this book was not at the meeting. She provided a statement to the board which read in part, "...They have a responsibility to monitor the materials they expose to the population they serve. Some material that are age-appropriate for college students and above might not be good for our 15-year-olds or younger, prize winning novel or not."

WFMY News 2

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