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BOLIVA, NC (WWAY) — The debate over the Pulitzer Prize-winning book “The Color Purple” continues in Brunswick County, but so far it looks like all the debate may be much ado about nothing.

Despite complaints from parents, students and community members earlier this month at a board of education meeting, a formal challenge has not been submitted to remove this book from schools.

At a committee meeting Tuesday, the school board reviewed its policy for challenging instructional materials.

No recommendations were made to amend the policy, but there was a recommendation to possibly establish an advisory committee to review appeals should they reach that level of challenge.

Superintendent Edward Pruden says he thinks “The Color Purple” should be taught in schools to the appropriate age group.

“I think for students 16 years old and older and who have a teacher to guide them through the study of the book, it can be done in an appropriate manner, and to their educational benefit,” Dr. Pruden said.

But Brunswick County Commissioner Marty Cooke disagrees.

“To put it another way, one can eat from a cafeteria or a dumpster, but one would hope those placed in charge of our children would have exercised better oversight,” Cooke wrote in an e-mail to a concerned parent.

Cooke told us the entire e-mail states his opinion. He said “The Color Purple” is simply too graphic for students.

School Board member John Thompson says he has not read the book cover to cover. He says he understands why people would be upset, but he also understands its educational value.

“Good literature can be rough at times,” Thompson said.

Pruden says parents always have the final say when it comes to their child.

The board will discuss the reccommended procedure changes at their next meeting Dec. 17.

Comment on this Story

  • TooCoolForSchool

    Evelyn, you know the term “school teachers” has derogatory connotations.

    But like you, I use the term for university teachers as well.

    There was a time when teachers were educated and came from the middle class. No more. The school teachers, both in the public schools and universities, often come from the lower classes (first in their families to graduate from college), and they are really not educated in the formal sense.

    I was astonished when I received a note from my son’s “social studies” (what a joke) teacher with three grammatical errors, one spelling error, and one word improperly employed.

    Todays teachers are not up to snuff; that’s for sure.

  • Evelyn in Southport

    “School Board member John Thompson says he has not read the book cover to cover.”

    And neither have the students read the book cover to cover. “The Color Purple” is a Grade B movie that any teenager can get from a library.. But it’s more than likely that the school teachers who selected this dubious work have already shown them the movie in class. No need to read the book cover to cover.

    I would like to take a look at the books on the required reading list. I imagine there are many books by diverse writers but few books with any artistic merit.

    School teachers in Brunswick County and elsewhere choose dumbed-down books that will “entertain.” The school teachers shy away from serious literature, a genre that is beyond their intellectual and aesthetic prowess.

  • Guestomfg

    The Color Purple is NOT a “B” MOVIE. It is one of the best movies I have EVER seen. I watched it in the theater when it first came out many years ago and at the end my sister and I had to sit there for 15 min to compose ourselves. How many movies bring you to tears like that? You sound like a snobby elitist wannabe.

  • Guest2020

    Please tell us how trashy drivel with foul language is educational. With classic literature out there, why would we even think to use a book like “The Color Purple” to teach our children anything. Stick with Dickens and others who wrote great books without horrible language and graphic depictions.

  • Teacher

    How much Dickens have you read? I mean beyond the Donald Duck Christmas special. Dickens covers prostitutes, families at war with one another over money, illegitimate children, STIs, the abuse and selling of orphans, massive deaths and pages upon pages of descriptions of the filth and excrement in the streets of London. Just because it by an “old, dead, white guy” does not make it “clean and a classic”. Most “classic” literature covers controversial topics and delves into the parts of society that many people do not want to look at. Alice Walker won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for this novel, that is hardly devoid of merit. If you do not like the book, assuming you read it, then you do not have to like it. However, to assume, just because the author is a black woman and the subject matter is surviving the horrors of abuse, gender roles and racism to build a successful life, that the novel is “trashy” is ignorant and short sighted.

  • goaway

    Marty Cooke and his wife need a reality check. Have they observed what the children say and the words they use to say it on the social media? There is nothing in that book that a middle school student doesn’t already know. You were both elected to REPRESENT our interests, not shove your religion down our throats. Why doesn’t WWAY talk to the teachers about what life is like for a teenager today.

  • Guest Reply Redux

    …that teachers are allowed to wear purple T shirts now?

  • Livid

    I happen to be a teacher with an advanced degree and I take offense to your remarks. Have you stepped into the classroom lately other than complaining about a low grade? I doubt you have any real education either. If the teaching profession has declined, it is directly correlated to the overall decline of our society. Have a great day!

  • Teacher

    How sad that you are such a bigot that you cannot see the value in someone working hard to achieve success. You try to shame people who worked to become the first person in their family to go to college and the fact that they use their education to help educate others. If you think that people born into a particular set of socioeconomic circumstances should not achieve and earn an education then you are in the wrong country and the wrong era because even India does not have a caste system anymore.
    I know what you thinking, and you are correct; I am a first generation college graduate who became a public school teacher, not for money or respect, but because I saw an opportunity to better the world, even with the growing yoke placed around the necks of the education system. I suppose you consider me “not really educated” due to the fact that my parents were not college graduates, I mean my father had the nerve to fight for his country when he clearly should have been following your life plan.
    I suppose that the three undergraduate degrees from major universities and the two master’s degrees from an Ivy league school do not fulfill your idea of “educated… in the formal sense” but I am just going to have to rise above your low opinion of me and not point out the grammatical error in your comment. I hope that you never have to interact with so low bred and uneducated a person as myself because I am sure I would offend your sensibilities. Have a blessed day, of course, Jesus wasn’t educated either so I am sure you don’t believe in him.

  • PurpleLips

    “I know what you thinking . . .” says the above Teacher.

    And a run-on sentence (last sentence of paragraph 2: “I suppose you consider . . .”

    Back to Basics!

  • SnarkmeisterGeneral

    Teacher! My compliments for probably the BEST putdown of this year. Donald Duck Christmas, indeed!

    It never ceases to amaze me that when the our students are exposed to literature that tells the truth of what life really is, particularly with respect to the historically wretched treatment of African Americans that the stock accusation of “playing the race card” gets invoked.

  • Guest2020

    Dickens does delve into the ills of society. He does so without portraying graphic rape scenes. He does so without littering his books with foul language.

    Nowhere in my earlier post did I address the topic of the book or the race of the writer. It’s the graphic depictions of a rape and foul language that make the book trashy.

    As for the Pulitzer prize, it wouldn’t be the first time that an award was given when it wasn’t merited.

  • Guest-o-matic

    Then you go further to publicly bash one of the best authors of all time? “Donald duck Christmas special…”? Seriously? You actually wrote that? I pray to heaven and earth that you are not a teacher in the public or private sector and if so, the new tenure laws will quickly weed you out of the system! YOU are NOT what we need to stuff our children’s heads, so hide yourself well!

    What is really trashy and short-sighted is the racist opinions you just posted and it likely fits that racist, pissed-off, chip on the shoulder persona you’ve carried with you since a child. It’s people with disparaging attitudes such as yours that hold your people back from the success you desire! THAT is no one else’s fault but your own and so very well displayed!


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