In the decades since its debut in 1960, students and teachers have embraced this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel as a beloved coming-of-age story that makes a bold and important statement about racial injustice in the United States.
Race and the “N-word”
While To Kill a Mockingbird’s message of standing up for what’s right even when the costs are high still receives acclaim (for example, Harper Lee was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007 for her book), not everyone agrees that it holds the moral high ground. Although its use of profanity is the main reason it frequently appears on the American Library Association’s list of banned books, it’s also been challenged for its sexual content (a black man is accused of raping a white woman) and one-dimensional representation of African Americans as docile, simple folk who need whites to protect them. While some see the novel as a powerful statement against racism, others see it as reproducing racism in a less obvious form.