"> Name: Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Date:  1975 - 1984 , 1985 - 1995 , 1995 - 2005

Location:  North America

SubjectExplicit Sexuality , Language


Artist: Maya Angelou

Confronting Bodies: Schools and parents in several American states, the Alabama State Textbook Committee

Date of Action: Ongoing since 1983

Specific Location: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington.

Description of Artwork: Maya Angelou's first autobiographical novel, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," features her childhood, from when she moved into her grandmother's house after her parents divorce. Some of its controversial elements include graffic rape, teenage pregnancy, homosexuality, life in segregated Arkansas and homelessness.

Description of Incident: Since 1983, schools throughout the United States have tried to ban "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" even though it is celebrated for its elegant prose. Parents, schools and related organizations have argued that the book encourages deviant behavior because of its references to lesbianism, premarital sex, cohabitation, pornography and violence. The book's profanity has also caused its removal from school curriculum and library shelves. The Alabama State Textbook Committee accused it of encouraging "bitterness and hatred toward white people."

Results of Incident: Some schools have removed the book from their classes and libraries, however, many have decided to retain the book. Today, the book is still among the most challenged books in American schools.

Source: Censorship, A World Encyclopedia, D. Jones

Submitted By: NCAC

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