RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. — The Randolph County School Board voted 6-1 at a special meeting Wednesday to reverse a ban on Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” that was issued last week.
The board voted to ban the book on September 16 after a Randleman High School parent complained the book was inappropriate.
“This book should not be on the summer reading list,” wrote mother Kimiyutta Parson in documents to the school system. “You must respect all religions and points of views when it comes to the parents and what they feel is age appropriate for their young children to read.” She objected specifically to the book’s language and sexual content.
Wednesday was the first the board members heard from English teachers like Justine Carter.
“The theme of invisibility and the struggle to find one’s identity are themes that many adolescents can relate to. The narrator is made to feel invisible because of society’s beliefs,” she explained.
Gary Mason was the only board member who remained in favor of the ban.
“The book is not appropriate for young teenagers to read. I have found the parent’s original complaint to be legitimate,” he said before the vote.
Tracy Boyles was one of the four members who changed their vote.
“My son serves in the United States Air Force. He’s been to war twice, fighting for our freedoms and I’m here casting a vote to take it away,” he said of his change of heart.
“Invisible Man,” originally published in 1952, addresses many of the social and intellectual issues facing African-Americans in the first half of the 20th century.