National group weighs in on ‘The Color Purple’ debate

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Submitted: Thu, 12/19/2013 - 4:44am
Updated: Thu, 12/19/2013 - 3:41pm

SHALLOTTE, NC (WWAY) — For the last few months the Brunswick County Board of Education has read through literature from both sides of ‘The Color Purple’ debate, and now a national group is chiming in with their own passage.

Earlier this year a West Brunswick honor student, a number of parents, and Brunswick County Commissioner Pat Sykes asked the Brunswick County Schools to close the book on ‘The Color Purple.’ That request raised more than a few eyebrows.

“This is the first time we’ve defended the color purple in a long time and I think that shows you in part is sort of a book that’s classic and beyond reproach in a way that it’s a part of the advanced placement curriculum,” said Acacia O’Connor of the National Coalition Against Censorship.

At the center of the controversy is a chapter of the book in which author Alice Walker vividly describes a rape, and if appropriate for AP high school English students.

“If the students are mature enough to handle the dialogue and the concept of the book then everybody else should be fine with it,” Alanna Davis said. “I don’t think it’s sheltering but you’re not allowing them to express themselves and tell us what they’re able to handle.”

“No one is done a service by having things kept from their view that’s the point of education,” O’Connor said.

Brunswick County Superintendent Dr. Edward Pruden recently supported the inclusion of the book in the curriculum. Dr. Pruden’s decision was echoed by one Brunswick County counselor.

“I don’t see a problem with the book,” Davis said. “There was a controversy when the book came out and when the movie came out. That was a different time this is the year 2013 going on the year 2014.”

WWAY spoke to Brunswick County School Board Chair Charlie Miller, who declined comment until after the appeals process has played out. That’s expected to happen at a special meeting Jan. 3.

WWAY also reached out to Commissioner Sykes, who is challenging the book, but she has yet to return our calls.

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20 Comments on "National group weighs in on ‘The Color Purple’ debate"

2015 years 8 months ago

“The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame”
-Oscar Wilde

Jon Hoehn
2015 years 8 months ago

Pat Sykes needs to grow up and try to understand the significance of this fictional work.

2015 years 8 months ago

If Brunswick County keeps this book on the shelves of our school, then they need to let the Gideons go in and hand out free Bibles.

Sgt Hardy
2015 years 8 months ago

If Sykes actually cared about the kids’ reading material, she might see to it that they understand the basic subject books they are all issued, and pay more attention to that, LEARNING, as much as foolish opinionated drama. ANY books those kids read at this point cannot hurt them. Low grad rate, teen drinking, bullying, meth labs…I know it’s easier to attack Alice Walker’s masterpiece, but how bout DOING something instead of just stirring up crap. It won’t be the kid who read Color Purple who breaks into your house, genius.

Monkey Junction
2015 years 8 months ago

The Supreme Court has ruled passing out bibles in public schools is unconstitutional. Students are also free to pray in school all they want but it must not be an organized prayer.

2015 years 8 months ago

Truthfully the students are talking about worse things than rape, but they just dont name it as rape to make them feel better. I was a AP student a couple years ago and I wish we would have read this book because the movie is very good. The kids in high school already know about rape and etc hell most of the high school girls are getting pregnant. How about worry more on a better sex edu than a classic book. I though book burning days were over.

2015 years 8 months ago

My guess is that some of the same ones that are crying the blues about a book allow their kids to play violent and obnoxious video games. I am sure what is actually going on in public (and private) schools, far surpasses anything in this book that is considered indecent.

2015 years 8 months ago

I’m not hating anything except a piece of drivel that contains a graphically depicted rape scene and is littered with foul language. If the author was worthy of a “masterpiece” she would have been able to write without the use of the foul language. There are so many books out there that are better. This nonsense is not necessary.

If you want education then have the kids read Dickens, Tolstoy and the like. They wrote great books with excellent vocabularies that didn’t warrant a book being littered with the language that Walker used.

As far as doing something, I monitor what my children do in school. My daughter graduated from West Brunswick with honors. She did so without reading that trash.

bilbo burgaw
2015 years 8 months ago

As a fan of “great books” I’m sure you’re aware of Dickens’ and Tolstoy’s vehement anti religious views, especially Christian evangelism and the graphic scenes of rape and other forms of human brutality in their novels.
Getting upset over some sort of personal opinion over semantics denies you the ability to understand the context and the greater message the author is conveying. Denying any young person the experience of being able to learn about the lives of people suffering during times of great historical misfortune such as that of African Americans in the Jim Crow south is a sin. Alice Walker should be and has been lauded for her wonderfully written account of terrible hardships and the triumph of the loving human spirit.

2015 years 8 months ago

The book is not trash just because someone says it is. Perhaps you should try reading it. With an open mind.

2015 years 8 months ago

Like it isn’t graphic? How exactly should rape be described in beatific terms? All set aglow with hovering angels and soft candle light, i.e. the true soft porn version. Oh my mistake, rape is gentle, rape is kind, insert huge eye roll.

2015 years 8 months ago

You can describe the horror of rape without being graphic about it.

2015 years 8 months ago

“Describing rape doesn’t have to be graphic.” Bwaaahaahaa.

Oh wait, you were serious weren’t you. Bless your little heart.

Guessing your West Brunswick genius child has either gone on to college where she’s now realizing how lacking her education was for not having read the classics that her classmates know and are referenced frequently OR she’s not in college. Either way, sad.

2015 years 8 months ago

What are the parents going to do when their child is in college and have to read James Baldwin? Pull their children out of college?

Carol Kramer
2015 years 8 months ago

I suggest we pay attention:
“Across the nation, in public and Catholic schools, parents and teachers have found sexually inappropriate materials in the exemplars recommended by Common Core State Standards (CCSS). In some cases the offending material is removed. In others, parents are offered “opt out” choices for their children. However, the question that looms large is, why has so much disturbing material been systematically built into the CCSS recommended texts? Should a small cadre of unelected ideologues have nationwide power to decide that American first graders should be exposed to homosexual “families,” or, that ninth graders be given pornography in the guise of literature? These questions and the examples outlined below shout for parental scrutiny and a return to local control of school districts.”

2015 years 8 months ago

The Supreme Court has been wrong before and it is wrong in that. A school allowing a group to hand out Bibles does not constitute Congress establishing a religion. The separation of church and state is a misnomer and is not in the Constitution.

Regardless of that, if people are going to be against banning books, then the Bible should be allowed with everything else.

2015 years 8 months ago

That old purple colored book is a peice of garbage, and it should be tooken down to the landfill and let the sea gulls read on it and let them worms gnaw on it it, cause that’s all it’s good for, the only reason they write books like that is to stir up trouble and disturb the peace anyway, it’s well enough to moan about how censorship is bad but you can’t censor a peice of trash, cause it’s trash to begin with, like all that rubbish that they are subjecting the children to in school like that old tony morrison and maya angeloo and that garbage, they need some proper literature like Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon and A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, that’s proper literature that will teach them children some theology and geometry there, and get that trash out of the school.

2015 years 8 months ago

Looks like you need to read something…anything. “peice”? “tooken”? “angeloo”? However, if your intent was hilarious satire, you succeeded! Well played BURGERBOY.

2015 years 8 months ago

It looks like we traded one brand of crazy (Charles Warren) for a different brand of crazy (Pat Sykes).

2015 years 8 months ago

WWAY, please obtain a Brunswick County High School Required Reading list and publish it.

I suspect the list is littered with entertaining schlock. Today’s school teachers are inclined to choose books with “entertainment” value rather than literary merit.

Even the school teachers themselves do not read the Canon of Great Literature. Furthermore, they do not read. (I am a teacher, and this is what I have observed first hand.) From my own experience with being around English teachers, the only books they have read are the ones assigned them by their instructors way back when they were in college.