AUGUSTA, Georgia (WJBF)– An author whose book was removed from the Columbia County schools curriculum was in Augusta. New York Times bestselling author Nic Stone traveled to the University of Augusta to speak with teachers from Georgia and South Carolina.
The AU Writing Project and Office of Diversity and Inclusion invited Stone to talk about teaching diversity through books.
“A lot of teachers are scared, and they really want to incorporate diverse literature into their classrooms and they’re not sure how to navigate those waters,” said Rebecca Harper, AU Writing Project Director.
The Maxwell Theater was filled with teachers from Georgia and South Carolina.
“Everyone who showed up today certainly showed their commitment to education because they came, because they wanted to learn more about their work,” Harper said.
“Teachers, you are very, very much appreciated. Especially at a time like this,” Stone said.
The event came just a week after Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed into law SB 226, which will allow schools to ban books they deem divisive.
His book, “Dear Martin”, is about a black man who has a run-in with the cops. The main character writes to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to find out if his teachings coincide with the 21st century. The book was banned by hundreds of school districts, including the Columbia County school system in 2019. At the time, school leaders said it was due to “racial tendencies as a negative attribute of the society”.
“I was sad. I think what people don’t realize or think about when they decide to ban a book is that you’re telling kids who look like the characters in the book that they’re not welcome in certain spaces,” Stone said.
But Stone says she doesn’t think banning books about race will end the conversation.
“Hopefully the kind of push and pull of the issue will bring some of these things to the surface. Then we have no choice but to talk about it,” Stone said.