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Duluth schools remove 'Huckleberry Finn' and 'To Kill a Mockingbird' from curriculum

Duluth schools remove 'Huckleberry Finn' and 'To Kill a Mockingbird' from curriculum Click to Enlarge

Students in Duluth will no longer automatically get schooled in “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” or the trials of Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

In an effort to be considerate of all students, the two novels, which contain racial slurs, will no longer be required reading in the district’s English classes next school year. They will still be available in the schools for optional reading, however.

“The feedback that we’ve received is that it makes many students feel uncomfortable,” said Michael Cary, director of curriculum and instruction for the district. “Conversations about race are an important topic, and we want to make sure we address those conversations in a way that works well for all of our students.”

Cary said the decision, made as a group by district leaders and leaders in Duluth’s secondary schools, came after years of concerns shared by parents, students and community groups. The change was announced to district staff members late last week.

Stephan Witherspoon, president of the Duluth chapter of the NAACP, called the move “long overdue.”

The literature has “oppressive language for our kids” Witherspoon said, and school should be an environment where children of color are learning equally. There are other novels with similar messages that can be taught, he said.

“Our kids don’t need to read the ‘N’ word in school,” Witherspoon said. “They deal with that every day out in the community and in their life. Racism still exists in a very big way.”

The classic novels will be replaced in the curriculum with other, yet-to-be-determined books.

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