Harrison County

Biloxi pulling ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ sparks national outrage

The backlash was swift for Biloxi over the weekend.

The national reaction to Biloxi School District’s decision to pull “To Kill A Mockingbird” from the eighth-grade reading list met with severe comments around the nation and even in England.

It was a Twitter Moment on Saturday and was still featured on Sunday.

The book was pulled, according to what little the Biloxi School District will say about the issue, because parents complained that language in the book made them uncomfortable. Biloxi Superintendent Arthur McMillan went to lengths to craft a statement that neither confirmed nor denied the school district did it. School Board member Kenny Holloway, however, confirmed and explained the district’s concerns.

“There is some language in the book that makes people uncomfortable, and we can teach the same lesson with other books,” Holloway said.

A reader told the Sun Herald it was because of “the use of a the N-word.”

National reaction was overwhelmingly in favor of “Mockingbird,” an American classic and favorite.

“NBC Today Show just had this on national television,” one commenter posted on Facebook. “They took a national poll and 90% said it should STAY in the school curriculum and only 10% opposed it.”

Google “Biloxi and To Kill A Mockingbird” and the media list goes on and on.

“The ironic, enduring legacy of banning ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ for racist language,” was a Washington Post headline.

“Banned in Biloxi, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ raises old censorship debate,” USA Today said. Fox News put together a package focusing on the racial aspect.

“Mississippi school district pulls ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ for making people ‘uncomfortable,” CBS news reported.

The former secretary of education under the Obama administration, Arne Duncan, and Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse also commented on twitter:

“When school districts remove 'To Kill A Mockingbird' from the reading list, we know we have real problems,” Duncan said.

“Engaged parents should call the school district with the clear message: Our kids are tough enough to read a real book,” Sasse said.

A Southern gothic novel, “To Kill A Mockingbird” was published in 1960, won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction the next year and was adapted into an Oscar-winning film in 1962.

The plot deals with rape and racial inequality in a small Southern town. The events and characters are loosely based on author Harper Lee’s observations of an event that happened near her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, in the 1930s, when when she was young.