Alabama Teachers and Parents Voice Frustration Over Cancellation of Author Derrick Barnes’ Visit for Black History Month
Award-winning children’s book author Derrick Barnes had his invitation to speak and read his books at an Alabama school rescinded and many are not happy about it.
Barnes, whose books feature Black children, had his scheduled visit to three Hoover City Schools, a school system just south of Birmingham, Alabama, canceled by school officials. According to CNN, Barnes’ it was due to contract issues and a parent’s concern regarding Barnes’ social media posts.
CNN also reported that parents, teachers, and citizens of Hoover raised $4,300 of the $9,900 Barnes would have been paid for the speaking engagements.
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Ashley Dorough, a parent of a 7-year-old student at one of Hoover City schools, launched a fundraiser.
“We are a transracial family, so when we found out Derrick Barnes was coming, we immediately cleared our schedule, asked the librarian if family can come, it was a very exciting, well-known event. It’s a rare opportunity for your child to get in a public school, so losing that was disappointing, hurtful, and frustrating,” Dorough told CNN.
“At the beginning, there was so much anger, and we were all asking, ‘Why, why, why?’” she added. “I realized we can no longer be angry or just move on with our lives. We had to take that energy and put it into something good.”
The district’s move to cancel Barnes’ visits triggered concerns of censorship amid controversial book bans in some parts of the country, specifically targeting titles related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Republican-led states, including Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and Texas, have pushed statewide rules making it easier for critics to remove titles they dislike from school libraries.
In Alabama, the state’s board of education adopted a resolution in 2021 titled “Declaring the Preservation of Intellectual Freedom and Non-Discrimination in Alabama’s Public Schools,” which, according to the Legal Defense Fund, “prevents educators from teaching the full and accurate history of racial discrimination and civil rights in Alabama and the United States.”
CNN reviewed Barnes’ social media posts and found that most of the author’s posts feature photos of his family, writing, and music he enjoys as well as comments about news events and political issues—including police brutality.
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