Minnesota school district drops 'Huckleberry Finn,' 'To Kill a Mockingbird'
© Getty

Schools in Duluth, Minn., will no longer be required to read two American classic novels as part of their English curriculum after reports the language inside was making students uncomfortable.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported this week that the school district will drop Harper Lee's 1960 book "To Kill A Mockingbird," a story about a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman, as well as "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," Mark Twain's story of an escaped slave and a young boy heading down the Mississippi River.

The two books were taught in the 9th and 11th grades, respectively. The schools told the Tribune that the books will still be available on school grounds for optional reading.


“The feedback that we’ve received is that it makes many students feel uncomfortable,” Duluth curriculum director Michael Cary said.

“Conversations about race are an important topic, and we want to make sure we address those conversations in a way that works well for all of our students.”

Local civil rights organizations celebrated the move, including the local chapter of the NAACP, who called the language in the books "oppressive."

“Our kids don’t need to read the ‘N’ word in school,” local NAACP president Stephan Witherspoon said. “They deal with that every day out in the community and in their life. Racism still exists in a very big way.”

Cary added that local teachers and parents would be instrumental in finding new novels that are more suitable for students from a diverse range of backgrounds.

“We’re doing this out of consideration of the impacts on our students and specifically different groups of students in our schools, and especially our communities of color,” Cary said.

The two novels have long been sources of controversy in schools for their use of racist language, which was used commonly when the books were written.

In December, the Friends' Central School in Philadelphia joined the list of schools deciding to ban "Huckleberry Finn" from classrooms, arguing the "community costs" outweigh "literary benefits" of the book.

"We have all come to the conclusion that the community costs of reading this book in 11th grade outweigh the literary benefits," school headmaster Art Hall told parents in a letter at the time.