Initial Complaint

The removal of To Kill a Mockingbird from Accomack County Schools’ libraries and curriculum began with a parental complaint of a “request for reconsideration of learning resources” by Marie Rothstein Williams. Her son attended Nandua High School and had to read the novel as part of his class curriculum. She came to a school board meeting with, “Concerns of his reading material.” She presented her reasons as to why not only To Kill a Mockingbird, but also The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn should be removed from the high school curriculum.

Williams said, “we are a nation divided as it is.” Her son is biracial and proposed that there are other books they could use rather than ones with such offensive words. In her complaint at the Accomack County School Board meeting on November 15th, 2016, she suggested that they look at using other books to teach the same types of lessons to students. She even offered to pay for different books or sit on a team to decide about how they could change the materials so they were more sensitive to the student readers. Williams spoke to the fact that her proposal for a change wasn’t about just her son, but all the students in the school system. She claimed that by letting students read these materials they were normalizing the use of the n-word in schools and her child shouldn’t have to hear it in their place of education, that her son already hears it enough on the street. “So what are we teaching our children? We’re validating that these words are acceptable, and they are not acceptable by any means,” she said in the meeting. Then she pointed out how the book had been recently complained about and it wasn’t a new idea for the book to be removed. As Marie Rothstein Williams only had three minutes to talk and was nervous, she managed to make her points about how students would benefit from change of what is taught in high school. At the end of the meeting she was told it would go to the School Board Superintendent, Chris “Warren” Holland and he would take it from there.

Listen to Marie’s complaint at the school board meeting on the Accomack County, Virginia Website. 

Her commentary is from 0:00-9:14.