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Reader's View: Hard to believe this happened in Duluth

I was dismayed to hear of the removal of two great literary works from the curriculum of the Duluth public schools, "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." There seemed to be very little community debate.

Harper Lee, the author of "To Kill a Mockingbird," won the Pulitzer prize in 1961 during a time when few women received this honor. She spoke openly and honestly about the racial injustices she witnessed in the South. In 2010, President Barack Obama awarded her the National Medal of the Arts.

A master of satire, Mark Twain, author of "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," wrote in the 1800s about racism in everyday life and used racial slurs that were common in that era. He is one of our greatest American authors.

I was surprised that teachers were not consulted in this decision. Surely, they should be consulted when it comes to issues of curriculum, teaching, and learning. It is important that students have the ability to critically analyze historical pieces of literature and to be guided by experienced teachers in difficult discussions.

There are broader issues here around book banning and censorship that deserved further discussion. We are told this is not book banning because the books will still be available in the library. As a long-time college educator, I doubt they will be sought out often. We are told their content can be replaced by less objectionable sources, as if a unique work of art can be easily replaced by another.

These books have challenged the thinking of generations of American students. While school boards have been seeking to censor and ban them for decades, I did not expect to see this happen in Duluth.

Melanie Shepard