Recently, concerned Cody resident Carol Armstrong filed a complaint with the Cody School District’s Educational Resource Complaint Committee, an adjunct of the Park 6 School Board. The nine-person board, made up of teachers and other school employees, are handpicked by the Trustees. The complaint was about the book The Color Purple. Armstrong was not asking to “ban the book,” as the “Cowpie” (AKA – Cowboy State Daily) reported. She asked if it was appropriate material for leisure reading in the school library. This reporter is not making a judgment on whether the book is good or not, whether it should be on the shelves or not, but whether Cody School Board Trustees have at least a rudimentary capacity for reasonable discernment about who is running the Cody High School Library.
The policy of obtaining books for the CHS library is determined almost exclusively by the librarian, Jennisen Lucas. She was quoted at the hearing as saying, “…it’s the responsibility of parents to discuss and supervise the books their children are checking out from the library.” Does that mean, if Lucas puts “Hustler” magazine on the shelves, it’s up to the parents to make sure their seventeen year old’s are to look at it or not in their free time?
The Color Purple is a synopsis. The story takes place in Georgia between 1909-1949. All the characters are black. Facts about the plot. Alfonso fathers Celie; Alfonso repeatedly beats and rapes her. Celie has children with her father. Most of the men in the story beat the women in their lives. A lounge singer named Shug instigates a lesbian relationship with Celie. Most all the personal relationships in the story are dysfunctional. In the end, Celie rejoins her estranged husband, opens a clothing store, and lives happily ever after.
Here is an outline of what Armstrong said. The decisions being made about the books in our libraries are critical and will affect the minds and attitudes of our future leaders.
Lucas countered by saying that these books “provide valuable perspective for students in Cody, a community she finds has many members who are ‘backward racially,’ and possessing a ‘racist ideation.’” Translation? She thinks the hicks in Cody are racists. Would that start with Carol Armstrong? “Provide a valuable perspective?”…about what? How to beat up women?
Current school policy has a system that alerts parents any time their child checks out a (questionable) book. However, that policy is about to change in the 2022-23 school year. Parents must “opt-in” to get alerts. Will Lucas, School Board Trustees, and principals make sure the parents know of this change?
Lucas is the president of the American Association of School Librarians, an affiliate of the American Library Association. The ALA is committed to serving the needs of the LGBTIA+ community and to promoting Critical Race Theory and Social Justice agendas.
By the way, the committee found against Armstrong’s complaint. Committee member, Yancy Bonner, droned, that, “banning The Color Purple would infringe on students’ First Amendment rights.” Park 6 Trustees later unanimously upheld the ruling of the committee.
Perhaps, you would like to contact Librarian Lucas about her opinions. You can call the CHS front office and ask to speak to her (307-587-4251) after August 23rd, when school starts up again.