To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee was published on July 11, 1960 and was an immediate bestseller. It won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1961 and was voted “best novel of the century” by the Library Journal. With more than thirty million copies in print, To Kill a Mockingbird remains a bestseller. Regardless of all the praise, this novel has been banned and challenged in many different areas due to profanity and racial slurs.
To Kill a Mockingbird was challenged and temporarily banned in Eden Valley, Minnesota due to the use of words such as “damn” and “whore lady”. In some other areas, it was challenged with being a “filthy, trashy novel”. In Warren, Ind. Township schools this novel was challenged “because the book does psychological damage to the positive integration process and represents institutionalized racism under the guise of good literature”. This novel was also challenged and/or banned in many other school districts due to the use of the word “nigger”, profanity, and other racial slurs. Some districts also claimed that this novel is degrading to African Americans.
When a letter to the editor was written by a Richmond, Virginia area school board in attempts to ban To Kill a Mockingbird as “immoral literature”, Lee responded by saying: “Recently I have received echoes down this way of the Hanover County School Board’s activities, and what I’ve heard makes me wonder if any of its members can read. Surely it is plain to the simplest intelligence that “To Kill a Mockingbird” spells out in words of seldom more than two syllables a code of honor and conduct, Christian in its ethic, that is the heritage of all Southerners.
To hear that the novel is “immoral” has made me count the years between now and 1984, for I have yet to come across a better example of doublethink. I feel, however, that the problem is one of illiteracy, not Marxism. Therefore I enclose a small contribution to the Beadle Bumble Fund that I hope will be used to enroll the Hanover County School Board in any first grade of its choice.” Although To Kill a Mockingbird is her only published novel, Lee has been the recipient of many honorary degrees. However, she has always declined to make a speech. To this day, To Kill a Mockingbird is still challenged in many different areas.