Go Tell it On the Mountain was James Baldwin"s debut novel. The semi-autobiographical work is a coming-of-age story and has been used in schools since its publication in 1953.
However, in 1994, its use in a Hudson Falls, NY school was challenged because of its explicit depictions of rape, masturbation, violence and abuse of women.
When Richard Wright"s Native Son was published in 1940, it was the first bestselling novel by an African-American author. It was also the first Book-of-the-Month Club selection by an African-American author. The following year, Wright received the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP.
The book was removed from high school bookshelves in Berrain Springs, MI because it was “vulgar, profane and sexually explicit.” Other school boards believed the novel was sexually graphic and violent.
Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man chronicles the life of an African-American man who migrates to New York City from the South. In the novel, the protagonist feels alienated as a result of racism in society.
Like Richard Wright’s Native Son, Ellison’s novel received great acclaim including a National Book Award. The novel has been banned by school boards—as recently as last year—as board members in Randolph County, NC argued the book held no “literary value.”
Since 1983, the memoir has had 39 public challenges and/or bans for its portrayal of rape, molestation, racism and sexuality.
Throughout Toni Morrison"s career as a writer, she’s explored events such as the great migration. She’s developed characters such as Pecola Breedlove and Sula, who have allowed her to explore issues such as racism, images of beauty and womanhood.
Morrison’s first novel, The Bluest Eye is a classic novel, lauded since its 1973 publication. Because of the novel’s graphic details, it has also been banned. An Alabama state senator attempted to have the novel banned from schools throughout the state because “The book is just completely objectionable, from language to the content…because the book deals with subjects such as incest and child