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Jim Leonard <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 18 Sep 2007 10:25:08 -0400
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When did the first instances of critical objections to Huckleberry Finn

as a book with "racist overtones" or containing portrayals of African
Americans that might be construed as demeaning or stereotypical?  --Alan
C. Reese


Alan--You may want to look at Peaches Henry's essay "The Struggle for
Tolerance: Race and Censorship in Huckleberry Finn," in the book Satire
or Evasion? Black Perspectives on Huckleberry Finn (1992).  It gives a
brief history of racial objections to Twain's novel.  Prof. Henry (like
Henry Sweets, in the message he posted yesterday) identifies the 1957
incident in New York City as the notable starting point for such
objections.  According to Prof. Henry's account, the New York City Board
of Education, allegedly under pressure from the NAACP (although the
NAACP denied it), "had removed Huck Finn from the approved textbook
lists of elementary and junior high schools" (p. 26).  If you're
interested in pursuing the question of racial opposition to Huckleberry
Finn seriously, you may want to also look at some of the other essays in
that collection.  And Jocelyn Chadwick-Joshua's The Jim Dilemma: Reading
Race in Huckleberry Finn (1998), besides Prof. Chadwick-Joshua's own
analysis of the book's racial impact, also contains some worthwhile
discussion of the climate of opposition to the book.  --Jim Leonard