54 years old
History Teacher- 11th Grade
23rd year on Yazoo Country School Board
4 Children, Two in the district- Ages 12, 18, 33, 35
31 October 2014
Dear Fellow Yazoo Country School board Members,
I am writing this letter to you today to place my vote on the topic of should The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn be taught in our eleventh grade English classes. First of all I would like to make clear that avoiding the facts of what America was like then will not just simply make them disappear. Some Americans think this is the way we should deal with the issue of black versus white that Mark Twain brings up in his novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Others choose to be ignorant and want their kids to have no knowledge of the acts that went on back then. The fact of white people abusing, enslaving and calling black people names is a very heavy subject and should not be taken lightly but it is important to make our kids aware of what went on. In Twains writing there are important life lessons, as well as heavy subjects but also valuable facts and information for a students maturing minds. I am a history teacher on the board of Yazoo Country School and feel like every student should read this book for the following reasons.
First and foremost this novel should be in our curriculum to make known and educate our children about how people of a difference race were treated back then. Even though this problem is not so serious right now there are still people who will never forget it. Now some parents and even teachers are weary of this novel because of the overabundant use of the word “nigger” so loosely. But what they might not consider is the fact that Twain wrote this book in 1884 when the word “nigger” was used all the time, and not like it is now. We need to remember that times have changed drastically since then and for the better. I remember my parents telling me stories of their friends having black slaves and how it was so common just to use the word “nigger” all the time and not think twice about it. We do not do that now and our kids need to know that but they will not care if they don’t know how it was used back then. We need to use this book as a tool in teaching right from wrong to our students. But other than the use of the word “nigger” this novel has many knowledgeable traits as well that can help our children relate to Huck Finn. He has to overcome many obstacles, physically and also mentally on what to do about his black slave friend, Jim. Should he do what he was raised to do or what he knows is right? This book shows a friendship that should have never happened but ended up being good for the both of them. Huck starts to mature throughout the book and that’s what we want our students to start to do through this book.
Secondly, I would like to point out that this book is definitely for our more mature students and that is why we are offering it in the eleventh grade. This is the hardest year before they graduate and it is for a purpose. We need to challenge them and get them ready for the real world. It is not like High School out there, we have all been there and seen how it really is. People are always trying to sway you the wrong way and mislead you. We want to make sure our students are prepared and know how to fight back when maybe someone uses the word “nigger” in a derogatory way. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn can give them some actual facts to stand on. Why not make it a fun experience for our eleventh graders while learning about such a heavy subject in society. This novel has comical times and also serious times. A serious point in this book is how black slaves were depicted as ignorant creatures. Notice I did not use the word men, people or even humans in describing the slaves because that was how it was. People did not bother knowing their names, letting them have an education