Book Ban: As To Kill A Mockingbird Is Pulled From Mississippi Classrooms, Here's Five More Times Censorship Has Won the Day

Harper Lee
Harper Lee, pictured circa 1962. Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

The decision by a Mississippi school district board to pull Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird from approved school reading lists has drawn widespread criticism.

The 1960 Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Alabama native Harper Lee explores racism and injustice in a small town, however according to Kenny Holoway, the vice president of the Biloxi school district, the novel contains language that "makes people uncomfortable."

Educators and campaigners have joined in criticism of the move, which was first reported by The Biloxi Sun Herald Thursday.

7-10-15 To Kill a Mockingbird mural
A hand-painted mural showing a scene of the 1960 bestseller " To Kill A Mockingbird" is shown on a building near where the homes of 1960's writers Harper Lee and Truman Capote's homes once stood in Monroeville, Alabama, October 23, 2013. Verna Gates/Reuters

Arne Duncan, who served as U.S. Secretary of Education from 2009-2015 under President Obama, criticized the decision. "When school districts remove 'To Kill A Mockingbird' from the reading list, we know we have real problems," he tweeted Saturday.

Republicans were also critical. Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse declared the decision 'terrible" and said "It's one of our few shared stories - in a nation with far too few shared stories right now."

The decision was one of the latest in a long line of controversial book bans by school boards in the U.S. with the number of texts banned or challenged on the rise in the U.S. in recent years, according to the Kids Right to Read Project

Below, Newsweek reviews some of the more controversial decisions.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Award winning author Sherman Alexie slammed education authorities in 2014 for wanting to "control debate and limit the imagination" after his novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian was pulled from the curriculum in Idaho schools.

The novel explores the experience of a Native American boy leaving school on a reservation to attend an all-white school, but was removed after complaints from parents for containing profanities, references to masturbation, and for being perceived as anti-Christian.

Of Mice and Men

In 2015, a curriculum review board recommended depression era classic Of Mice and Men by Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck no longer be taught in classrooms in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

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Cover from John Steinbeck's 'Of Mice and Men'. Getty Images

Parents were reportedly unimpressed by the book's profanities, and said it was "neither a quality story nor a page-turner."

The book tells the story of two itinerant workers and is praised for its humanity and wry humor, but since 1953, it has become one of the most frequently banned or challenged books in the U.S.

This One Summer

Free speech groups protested against the removal of coming-of-age graphic novel This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki from a school library in Henning, Minnesota in 2016.

It tells the story of a girl who gets caught up in the world of older teenagers when on summer vacation as she seeks to escape her parents' arguing.

Superintendent Jeremy Olson told the Daily Globe that it was banned after he, along with the school librarian and the principal of the school, found the topics it covered to be "inappropriate for inclusion in the library". "I deemed it as being vulgar. There was a lot of inappropriate language," he told the paper.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Friends' Central School in Philadelphia said that students would no longer be required to read Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn because its use of the N-word was not "inclusive" and made students uncomfortable.

The 1884 novel, regarded as one of the key works in American literature, tells the story of Huck Finn, who escapes his violent father and sets off on an adventure with an escaped slave on the Mississippi.

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The Mark Twain House, where the writer wrote the novels "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" and "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," in Hartford, Connecticut. Reuters

School authorities found the story's negative impact on the community outweighed its positive benefits.

Twelfth Night

In a case that attracted international news coverage, in 1996, a school board in Merrimack, New Hampshire, took issue with William Shakespeare's comedy Twelfth Night, in which a cross dressing page falls in love with her master. The play was pulled after being found in violation of the "prohibition of alternative lifestyle instruction."

Book Ban: As To Kill A Mockingbird Is Pulled From Mississippi Classrooms, Here's Five More Times Censorship Has Won the Day | U.S.