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OC activists want Angelou book removed

October 20, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Huntington Beach activists are pushing to remove one of Maya Angelou's most famous books from school libraries. They say "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" includes material that's not appropriate for children.It was read aloud Monday night during the Huntington Beach City Council meeting, a scene from a book that depicts the rape of an 8-year-old girl. The excerpt is from the Maya Angelou memoir "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings."

"I'm not happy to read this, I'm not proud to read this," said Huntington Beach resident Judy Ahrens. "It's very uncomfortable to read it, but for the sake of our kids we have to do things that aren't comfortable for the sake of our kids."

The people who decided to do this in a public forum say they're upset the book can be found in school libraries in four separate school districts.

"It contains child molestation scenes, lesbian scenes, teen sex scenes and teen pregnancy scenes," said Ocean View School Board Trustee John Briscoe. "And these are not matters for children in middle school or any elementary school."

The mayor of Huntington Beach says he allowed the speakers to continue because he feels it's a matter of freedom of speech.

"Comments can be on whatever you want, and we don't try to dictate what people say, and we ask them to be courteous so it's not a personal attack, and we kind of say, 'Keep the personal attacks down,'" said Huntington Beach Mayor Keith Bohr.

John Briscoe says he's brought the issue to several school boards, but he says so far no one is doing anything about it.

"And the first response in any bureaucracy is to wait and see and delay and defer and maybe the problem will go away," said Briscoe. "This problem isn't going away. I'll be on this like a hen on a wet worm. I'm not going to stand for this kind of literature."

The superintendent of Ocean View School District says as soon as the matter was brought to their attention, they submitted the book for review. He says in his district there are only two copies, and it's been checked out five times in the past five years.


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