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10 Black Books You May Not Have Known Were Banned or Challenged

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Native Son, Richard Wright, 1940

Richard Wright’s landmark novel, according to, “paints a brutal picture of a young, poor Black man, 20-year-old Bigger Thomas, incited to murder by the oppression and hatred of the white world. It explores inequality, racial conflict, and Wright’s belief at the time that Communism was Black Americans’ best hope for equality.”

The book has been challenged or removed in at least eight different states because of objections to “violent and sexually graphic” content.

Some of the cases where “Native Son” was banned or challenged:

**1978: Challenged in Elmwood Park, N.J.,  because of  “objectionable” language.

**1981: Challenged in North Adams, Mass., because of the book’s “violence, sex, and profanity.”

**1988: Challenged at the Berrian Springs, Mich., High School in classrooms and libraries because the novel was deemed “vulgar, profane, and sexually explicit.”

**1998: Removed from Irvington High School in Fremont, Calif., after parents complained the book was unnecessarily violent and sexually explicit.

**1998: Challenged in the Hamilton High School curriculum in Fort Wayne, Ind., because of the novel’s graphic language and sexual content.

What people are saying

19 thoughts on “10 Black Books You May Not Have Known Were Banned or Challenged

  1. Sundiata Keita says:

    gotta check out the invisible man. im not feeling toni morrison tho. the movies made about them come across as demonic and perverse.

  2. Jacqueline McGee Smith says:

    They are lyrical and soul wrenching. Try 'Jazz' first if you just want to dip a toe in.

  3. Sundiata Keita says:

    Jacqueline McGee Smith thank you

  4. Annie Kitchin says:

    Sundiata, what on earth do you mean by "demonic"? And what precisely is "perverse" in ANY of Toni Morrison's books?

  5. Sundiata Keita says:

    Annie Kitchin i'll answer your question just as soon as you let me know who you are for me to be answering you?
    are you the president or something? baby jesus? tell me which category you fall in?

  6. Sundiata Keita says:

    Annie Kitchin also, learn some reading comprehension cause youre lacking.

  7. Ruby Bennett says:

    You can't judge a book by the movie made from it. An adaptation is just not the same. There are too many things shown out of context. I've never seen the movies for these, but I read the books in my early teens. Are they raw? Yes, no sugar coating here, but neither demonic nor perverse.

  8. Ibn Askia says:

    Note to Black people and any other oppressed peoples. If the oppressor don't want you reading a book, please take special care to make sure that you DO read it. That is all.

  9. Toni Morrison is The Worksmith Master, not reading her work is robbing yourself of literature like no other.

  10. If reading is fundamental, what are they attempting to take from you by banning a book. Must be a piece of information that you need to know to free you from ignorance. Well, "you must know the truth, so the truth can set you free"… never truer words! If they tell you do not read it, you better read it twice, so as to not miss out what they are clearly attempting to withhold from you!

  11. I mean novels like mills and Boons get published and this real ish above gets challenged or banned… #smh

  12. What! These books are banned….ha ha ha. Try YURUGU by Marimba Ani. That book alone destroys white supremacy.

  13. Malcom X, Black Boy and maybe Roll of Thunder seem to be the only books where the complaints are not valid. The rest of the complaints were valid as they have to do with reading for under-aged individuals. Had the curriculums been college curriculums that would have been another issue and only then would the complaints about adult content have been somewhat valid. Even with that said, people DO have moral objections to sexually explicit and violent material. However, you can be warned before taking a college course. The same liberties should not be taken with under-aged individuals.

  14. Jerry Knox says:

    If you are going to ban books let us start with bible. As read the list all of the complaints mention you can in that book. Sex,violence, and othe objectionable content.

  15. Jj Bigga says:

    Why are all the books full of sex though? Who wants children in school from age like I dunno 11 to 16 reading such novels. Non Fiction maybe, and auto biographies but novels. I'm sure every book listed got rape, beastiality, sex, or paedophilia mentioned. I would not want my children reading 50 Shades Of Gray when they are in School. Are the books listing what was done to our ancestors by white slave masters, if so if has to be said but if its just nonchalantly mentioning sexual themes its like whyyyyy would parents want their children reading things? Its school. I definitely wouldn't. Am I looking at this the wrong way?

  16. Jj Bigga says:

    Roll Of Thunder Hear My Cry should not of been banned.

  17. Jj Bigga says:

    Same as Invisible man. Should not of been banned for the reason of too intellectual for young readers.

  18. Is there a way to print this list? I plan to read each and every book on this list with my daughter betwwen now and her graduation from high school.

  19. FYI Shakespeare = Sex, Murder, Violence, Incest

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