Column: Beverly group seeks to stock school libraries with banned book about Holocaust

January 30, 20230

Backlash over a Tennessee school district’s decision to ban a graphic novel about the Holocaust has reached the Southland.

Organizers in Beverly are raising money to buy copies of Art Spiegelman’s book “Maus.” They want to acquire more than 100 copies and give them to libraries in every public and private school in the 19th Ward.

“The banning of books, taking them out of the curriculum because they make people uncomfortable, is really frightening in a way,” said Tim Noonan of the group 19th Ward Mutual Aid. “These are things that happened. They need to be learned about so it doesn’t happen again.”

Spiegelman’s book is a memoir about his father’s experiences as a Polish Jew and Holocaust survivor. The story is told through text and comics-style illustrations depicting Nazis as cats and Jews as mice. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992 and remains the only graphic novel to earn the honor.

In January, the McMinn County School Board in Tennessee unanimously voted to remove the book from its curriculum. Last week, the school board affirmed its decision during a public meeting packed with demonstrators protesting the ban.

The move made headlines and catapulted the book back to the top of bestseller lists. Bookstores, Jewish groups, free-speech advocates and others nationwide are trying to acquire copies so young adult readers have access to “Maus.”

“The books are really difficult to get right now,” Noonan told me.

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