State Watch

New Jersey lawmakers propose resolution asking schools not to teach ‘Huckleberry Finn’

Two New Jersey state lawmakers are pushing for a change to school curriculums in the state, specifically requesting that districts stop teaching Mark Twain’s classic novel “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

Democratic state Assembly members Verlina Reynolds-Jackson and Jamel Holley have introduced a nonbinding resolution encouraging schools to remove the 1884 book from their teaching plans, citing the “racist” themes in the novel, according to Politico.

{mosads}“The novel’s use of a racial slur and its depictions of racist attitudes can cause students to feel upset, marginalized or humiliated and can create an uncomfortable atmosphere in the classroom,” the resolution reads.

“Huckleberry Finn,” which tells the story of a young boy who travels down the Mississippi River with an escaped slave whom he befriends, has long been controversial due to its frequent use of the N-word, which appears in the book over 200 times.

Though free speech advocates and many educators say the novel’s themes condemn racism and paint an accurate picture of an important — albeit painful — period in U.S. history, it has been regularly challenged in classrooms and removed from a number of school curriculums.

Reynolds-Jackson told Politico that the resolution comes after a racist cyberbullying incident at a school. While she does not blame the book for the incident, she and Holley, who are both African-American, want schools to consider other works as ways to teach about racism.

“There are other books out there that can teach about character, plot and motive — other ways besides using this particular book for that lesson,” she said.

The resolution says that teaching the book “in effect requires adolescents to read and discuss a book containing hurtful, oppressive, and highly offensive languages directed towards African-Americans.”

Reynolds-Jackson told Politico that she thinks “Huckleberry Finn” is a “racist book,” and said that she thinks President Trump’s rhetoric on race and immigration is a further reason to turn to other novels.

“I think in the climate that we’re in right now, where you have a president that is caging up our children and separating us in this way, I think to use this book in this climate is not doing the African-American community any justice at all,” she said.

Last year, a Minnesota district dropped both “Huckleberry Finn” and Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird” from its curriculum.

The local NAACP president praised the move, saying at the time: “Our kids don’t need to read the ‘N’ word in school.”

Tags Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Donald Trump Education New Jersey School curriculum

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video