BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Throughout her career, Toni Morrison’s work has received both praise and criticism for its subject matter, which could often include graphic imagery or language.
One notable example of this was in 2013, when former Alabama Sen. Bill Holtzclaw, R-Madison, sought to have Morrison’s novel, “The Bluest Eye,” banned from the state’s public schools and their reading lists. The book involves one scene where a young girl is raped by her father and becomes pregnant by him.
“The book is just completely objectionable, from language to the content,” Holtzclaw told the Alabama Media Group at the time.
Holtzclaw served in the state Senate from 2010 to 2018. Attempts to reach Holtzclaw for comment were unsuccessful Tuesday.
However, Holtzclaw was not the only person to criticize Morrison’s 1970 debut novel and its place in schools. According to American Library Association, “The Bluest Eye” ranked 15th on its list of “Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books” between 2000 and 2009. Morrison’s “Song of Solomon” was ranked 72nd on the list while “Beloved” was ranked 26th during that period.
In 2014, “The Bluest Eye” was ranked as the fourth most challenged book during 2014.
The book was previously on Appendix B of Alabama’s “Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects” in 2013 for 11th grade and up. Appendix B was later repealed by the Alabama State Board of Education.
Morrison died Monday following a brief illness. She was 88 years old.