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Stand up For Toni Morrison: Tell the Ohio Board of Education to Stop Promoting Censorship

Update: On September 26, the Ohio Department of Education announced that The Bluest Eye will not be erased from the Common Core text list.

The announcement came after hundreds of people from all over the world sent letters to Ohio Board of Education president Debe Terhar and board member Mark Smith asking them to stop promoting the censorship of important works of literature.

At a meeting on September 10, 2013, Ohio Board of Education President Debe Terhar labeled Toni Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye "pornographic" and called for its removal from state teaching guidelines for high school students. Board member Mark Smith went a step further, calling the novel part of “an underlying socialist-communist agenda.”

Far from pornography or propaganda, The Bluest Eye is an unflinching look at American racism and sexual violence, penned by an Ohio native who has won the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Morrison told reporters she was especially upset that the attacks have come from her home state.

“I resent it,” she said. “I mean if it's Texas or North Carolina as it has been in all sorts of states. But to be a girl from Ohio, writing about Ohio having been born in Lorain, Ohio. And actually relating as an Ohio person … (this) is ironic at the least."

The Ohio Board of Education should be fostering critical thinking, not censorship. Sending our young adults the message that they cannot be trusted to learn about such serious issues does them a tremendous disservice.

That’s why we sent Debe Terhar a letter, challenging her comments and inviting her and the rest of the board to attend our September 26 event in Columbus honoring the work of banned African American authors, including Toni Morrison.

Please take a moment to send your own message to Debe Terhar and Mark Smith. Ask them to drop the rhetoric and focus on the many real issues affecting our schools. We’ve already prepared the language to get you started.

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