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BOLIVIA, NC – The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation (ACLU-NCLF) yesterday sent a public records request to the Brunswick County Board of Education and the Brunswick County Board of Commissioners seeking all communications between officials related to recent efforts to ban Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Color Purple,” from Brunswick County Advanced Placement (AP) English classes.

The public records request, filed under North Carolina public records laws, also seeks communications regarding any other proposed curriculum changes or plans for banning other works of literature from Brunswick County public schools going back to the 2012-2013 school year.

“The public deserves to know the real motivation and goals behind this disturbing movement to ban classic works of literature from Brunswick County public schools,” said Chris Brook, Legal Director for the ACLU-NCLF, which has closely monitored the situation and had staff members present at board meetings. “Some Brunswick County officials have suggested that seeking to ban ‘The Color Purple’ may just be a first step in a much larger campaign to purge public school curriculum. We have been contacted by many local citizens who object to these attacks on the freedom to read and who are concerned about where this all may lead. We continue to urge the board to support academic freedom and reject calls to ban or make it harder for students to read great works of literature that promote critical thinking and dialogue.” 

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This post originally appeared on North Carolina Policy Watch's Progressive Voices.

by Mike Meno, ACLU-NC Communications Director

Recently, the Brunswick County Board of Education met to discuss whether or not to remove the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Color Purple” from a high school reading list. The meeting marked at least the third time this year that a North Carolina school board has openly considered removing from a reading list or altogether banning a critically acclaimed work of literature after a small group of parents complained about its content.

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RICHMOND, VA – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit will hear arguments from the ACLU-NC and the state of North Carolina on Wednesday, October 30, in a case challenging the constitutionality of a 2011 North Carolina law that would have allowed the production of a specialty “Choose Life” license plate but not an alternative plate with a message supporting reproductive freedom.

U.S. District Judge James C. Fox ruled in December 2012 that North Carolina's one-sided license plate scheme was unconstitutional, writing that “the State’s offering of a Choose Life license plate in the absence of a pro-choice plate constitutes viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment.” The state is appealing that ruling.

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation (ACLU-NCLF) filed a challenge to the law in 2011 on behalf of North Carolinians seeking a specialty license plate that supports a woman’s right to reproductive freedom. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, argued that the state’s plan violated the First Amendment by creating an avenue for private speech but opening it to only one side of a contentious issue.

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ASHEBORO – Tonight, the Randolph County Board of Education voted 6-1 to reverse an earlier vote banning Ralph Ellison’s literary classic, “Invisible Man,” from Randolph County schools.

In response, Chris Brook, Legal Director for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation (ACLU-NCLF) released the following statement:

“Tonight, the Randolph County Board of Education righted a wrong. The freedom to read is just as essential to a healthy democracy as the freedom of speech and all other rights protected by the U.S. Constitution. This episode should serve as a valuable reminder to students, teachers, parents, and school officials across the state of our ongoing duty to promote academic freedom, ensure the free exchange of ideas and information, and reject the always looming threat that censorship and suppression, for any reason, pose to a free society.”