"The Color Purple" Causes Controversy - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

07/20/05

"The Color Purple" Causes Controversy

Alice Walker's novel The Color Purple won the Pulitzer Prize, and the move of the same title won 11 Academy Awards. But now the novel, written more than 20 years ago, is causing quite a bit of controversy with parents in McIntosh County.

The parents we spoke with say the book has absolutely no place in high schools and they plan to take action.

"The parents that I've spoken with feel that is is totally, totally inappropriate literature for 15-, 16-year-old students to be reading," said parent Linda Wilson.

When fellow parent Mary Young picked up The Color Purple, she could barely get past the first page. "There was enough in those first two pages to turn me off," she told us. And she told her daughter, "'You're not reading it.'"

It is a story about a young black girl's life, which was filled with incest, abuse and homosexuality. Not what some parents want their kids reading.

Oddly enough, it was their children who brought the book to their attention. "She just said mama this book is horrible, you've got to read this," said Young.

The novel, which has sold more than a million copies and is listed on the state's recommended high school reading list, has parents questioning school officials.

We did speak with the principal of McIntosh County Academy, who said the students were not forced to read anything. As a matter of fact, they were given a choice on which books they wanted to read.

But these parents say the books on that list are either too violent or have explicit sexual content like The Color Purple. They've even started a petition hoping the McIntosh County School Board will remove the book from the required reading list.

"As far as the book, my child reading it or any other child, I don't want any child reading this book and any book with this kind of language in it," said Wilson.

Whether or not Alice Walker's novel will continue to be recommended reading remains to be seen. Concerned parents will take this issue to the school board meeting tomorrow night.

Reported by: Nicole Teigen, nteigen@wtoc.com

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