Down These Mean Streets
Artist: Piri Thomas
Date of Action: May, 1971
Region: North America
Location: Queens, NY
Subject: Explicit Sexuality
Confronting Bodies: Queens Community School Board District 25
Description of Artwork: "The book drew on Thomas’s upbringing as the black son of Puerto Rican and Cuban parents during the Great Depression in El Barrio, East Harlem, the dehumanizing racism he even faced within his family, his youth as a gang member which led to seven years in prison, and ultimately, his transformation into an educator and writer." - Smithsonian Magazine
The Incident: "The banning of a book about life In Spanish Harlem persists as a source of controversy in a middle‐class area of Queens that is very much unlike Spanish Harlem.
Whether or not to give junior high school pupils in Community School District 25 access to the book, “Down These Mean Streets” by Piri Thomas, the son of Puerto Rican immigrants, is a question that continues to split the school board and some segments of the community, which takes in portions of Flushing, Whitestone and College Point.
The book, which describes In the language of the streets the survival‐level life of a young boy growing up in East Harlem, was banned last month by a 5 to 3 vote of the decentralized board." - NY Times
The book was also removed from a school library in Long Island in 1981.
Results of Incident: Not provided yet.