The novel is told from the perspective of an African American man who opens the story by explaining that he is invisible “simply because people refuse to see [him].” It also contains commentary on social, intellectual and identity issues of African Americans in the twentieth century and explores contrasts in regional racism. It won the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction in 1953.
It came under scrutiny
after a complaint from Kimiyutta Parson, a parent of a high school
student at Randleman High School.
Parson said the book was “not so
innocent; instead, this book is filthier, too much for teenagers” and
complained that it is “freely in [the] library for them (students) to
read.” She was also opposed to the novel’s graphic language, sexual
content and — strangely — point of view; the story is told from a
first-person point of view.
All school board members were given a copy of the book and were instructed to read it before the review and vote.
One board member, Gary Mason, said, “I didn’t find any literary value. … I’m for not allowing it to be available.”
Ellison was born in Oklahoma City in 1914 and lived here until leaving to attend Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute in 1933.
John F. Callahan, Ph. D., will lecture here on Ellison’s life and works
at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 9, at OCU’s Walker Center for Arts and
Sciences, located at Florida Avenue and NW 26th Street.