The Color Purple
Artist: Alice Walker
Date of Action: August 2021
Region: North America
Location: Brunswick County, NC
Confronting Bodies: Brunswick County School Board
Description of Artwork: The Color Purple is an acclaimed work that won a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award in 1982. The book deals with many enduring literary themes and issues: the search for identity, the importance of freedom and independence, the struggle to overcome personal and societal limitations, the importance of education, and the power of narrative, as well as abuse, poverty, and patriarchy. While the book deals with some harsh situations and includes strong language, its overall message is one of love and forgiveness. Despite her limited opportunities and education and the sexual abuse she suffers, the main character, Celie, is ultimately able to overcome adversity, improving the lives of those around her - including her abusers - along the way.
The Incident: A West Brunswick honor student, a number of parents, and Brunswick County Commissioner Pat Sykes asked the Brunswick County Schools to ban the book stating it is "immoral," "filthy" and "profane."
Results of Incident: On January 3,2014, the book faced a vote from the school board. After a two-hour long discussion of the book, the board confusedly voted 3-2 to remove it, then — understanding their error — voted again to keep the book. Though the book will remain, the board is considering revising its policies to tighten access to books like The Color Purple.