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Oklahoma school board opts not to chuck 'Huck'

The Associated Press
04.25.00

Harvard Univers...
Harvard University Professor Jocelyn Chadwick asks student a question during lecture at Enid (Okla.) High School on April 6. Chadwick is in Enid for a series of lectures about Mark Twain's novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

ENID, Okla. — The Enid school board voted 7-0 last night to keep The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as required reading in American literature classes.

In voting to keep the 1885 novel by Mark Twain, the board rejected a recommendation from its textbook review committee to restrict the book to students taking advanced American literature classes.

The board decided that teachers would receive training on the novel and consider other books that would add cultural diversity to the high school's language arts curriculum. Plans call for Jocelyn Chadwick, a Mark Twain scholar from Harvard University, to train teachers in August.

Chadwick, who is black, came to Enid earlier this month and encouraged the board to keep the book in its curriculum. But she said students should be taught a background of the book and that Twain wrote it to criticize slavery.

A group of local black ministers had asked last fall that the book be dropped as required reading. They said it was offensive and degrading to black students.

The Rev. Alfred Baldwin Jr., president of the Southern Ministerial Alliance, said the group would accept the board's decision. But he was disappointed that he and others opposed to the book were not allowed to speak before the board voted, he said.

The book is required reading for Enid juniors. Students or parents upset with the book can request an alternate assignment.

Board member Bill Grimes made a motion to accept the textbook committee's recommendation to restrict the book. It failed, 6-1.

"If there are those who feel it is offensive, it should be their option, not a mandatory requirement," Grimes said.

Board member David Meara said he felt that decision could lead to other censorship issues.

"That is such a slippery slope," Meara said. "What do we find next that is offensive?"


Related

'Huck Finn' still pushes buttons, professor says

'If it isn't a dangerous book, there really is no reason for anybody to read it or teach it,' panelist Michael Kreyling tells First Amendment Center audience. 09.26.00

Huckleberry Finn pulled from classes after parent complains
Book is to remain on Michigan school district's shelves, but curriculum committee to recommend whether it should have a future in classrooms. 11.04.06

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