Page 2 -The Michigan Daily-Monday, January 25, 1988
Parents call Huck Finn racist IN BRIEF
By DOV COHEN
A group of Black parents has
requested that The Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn not be taught in
one of Ann Arbor's high schools
because of the book's racial content.
"I don't think garbage should be
in the school system. (Huck Finn) is
garbage," said Ezra Rowry, whose
daughter goes to Pioneer High
The book, which uses the word
"nigger" and contains what some
parents say is a derogatory portrait of
a Black slave, is taught in two
English classes at Pioneer. The
book is also taught at Huron High
School, but Huron EnglishR
Department head Gordon Johnston
said he doesn't know of any Huron
parents complaining about the use of
DESPITE THE language,
Mark Twain's novel is generally
regarded by critics as an affirmation
of human value and a condemnation
of slavery. The book is "a severe
criticism of the kind of moral
society which allows or encourages
racism," said University English
professor Lyall Powers. It "appeals
to the best humanity that's in us."
"The book is about racism. But
it's not a racist book," he said.
Saying Huck Finn encourages racist
attitudes is "like saying a book
'The book is about racism. But it's not a racist book.'
English Prof. Lyall Powers
feel now that the book is racist,
when she was younger she thought
about disease encourages disease."
The novel, considered by many to
be Twain's greatest work, has been
"a major piece of the American
Literature course for 20 to 25 years,
,at least," said David Tabler, head of
the Pioneer English Department.
COMPLAINTS ABOUT the
novel surfaced at a Jan. 11 meeting
between 40 to 50 parents of Black
children and Pioneer High School
principal Jim Clark. The meeting
focused mainly on improving the
achievement of Black students at the
high school, but some parents
expressed concern about the use of
According to parent Helen Oliver,
some parents said their children felt
bad and "intimidated," especially
when sections of the book were read
out loud in class.
No teachers were singled out for
blame during the meeting, Clark
said. "What the parents are
essentially saying to me is get rid of'
The American Literature class at
Pioneer, in which Huck Finn may
be taught, is being reviewed. The
review, which began before parents
ever expressed concern, is part of the
normal course review process and
should be completed by May or
June,Clark said. Both Tabler and
Johnston said it is unlikely that the
book will be taken out of the
OLIVER OBJECTED to the
book because, "I don't think it's
appropriate to use at this point until
the system can explore if there are
other books that can be used" to
teach American history and
"If the children are made to feel
bad, it's not worth it," she said.
Though Oliver said she doesn't
it was racist, because she thought it
portrayed the Black slave Jim as
eliminating the book from the
school altogether and removing it
from the school library, said, "I
think it has no positive redeeming
social value at all."
"Those (who say the book is
acceptable) are notathe ones being
called 'nigger.' That's why you get a
very liberal opinion on someone
"(Huck Finn) has no business in
the school system," he said. "Put it
in the public library. Take it out of
defended the book. Huck Finn is "an
integral part of American heritage
and literature"nand should be included
in American literature classes,
"I think it's fair to say that Huck
Finn has been taught successfully in
the high schools for decades,"
Johnston said. He said students
should come away with an
"appreciation of (the book) as a
sensitive portrayal of a boy's
conflict with his conscience
centering on slavery and social
The book has been controversial
nationally for its racial content.
However, this is the first time since
the late 60s or early 70s that it has
aroused much controversy in Ann
Arbor, Tabler said.
WH O supports
'U' to allocate minority hiring funds
seek the assistance of minority fac-
ulty in identifying minority candi-
dates and bringing them to the
attention of appropriate departments
.and programs," the statement said.
The initiatives also include the
appointment of a Black director for
,-LSA's Comprehensive Studies Pro-
gram (CSP) - a program designed
to increase the retention and gradua-
tion rates of minority undergradu-
Steiner cited as another initiative
his "ongoing discussions with LSA
Black faculty on the feasibility of
forming an advisory body" to im-
prove minority recruitment and re-
tention. LSA administrators said
yesterday that neither the specific
members nor the role of this body
have been determined.
The statement said the initiatives
resulted from discussions held last
week between Steiner, Interim
President Robben Fleming, Provost
and Vice President for Academic Af-
fairs James Duderstadt, Vice Provost
for Minority Affairs Charles Moody,
and Black faculty members.
But the decision to hire Melvin
Williams - a professor of anthro-
pology and Afro-American studies at
the University of Maryland - to fill
the vacant position of CSP director
was made last fall, Cross said.
Moody, Fleming, and Duderstadt
were unavailable for comment.
Members of a Black faculty group
which has condemned Steiner's re-
marks and hiring record - including
the absence of Blacks on the col-
lege's governing committee - re-
served comment on the initiatives
until later this week.
But one University faculty mem-
ber, who wished to remain anony-
mous, called Steiner's statement
"just an announcement of inten-
tions... things that had already hap-
pened and things that are intended. I
don't think there's much that is new
as far as policy goes."
Another faculty member, alsc
speaking on the condition of
anonymity, criticized the ambunt of
Black faculty input in last week's
discussions as "the administration
just calling a couple of people and
asking them what they thought of
Barbara Ransby, a steering com-
mittee member of the United Coali-
tion Against Racism (UCAR) -
which organized the sit-in and led the
demand for Steiner's removal -
called the initiatives "minimal con-
cessions... clearly the result of stu-
UCAR plans to meet with mem-
bers of the central administration to
discuss the initiatives this week.
Compiled from Associated Press reports
Shamir opposes peace forum
JERUSALEM - Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir told visiting U.S.
Jewish leaders yesterday he was ready to meet Arab leaders "openly or
secretly" but persisted in his opposition to an international Middle East
In the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, hundreds of Palestinian
youths clashed with Israeli soldiers and one Arab was seriously wounded,
the army said.
Theodore Mann, the president of the American Jewish Congress, and
Henry Siegman, the group's executive director, brought Shamir messages
from Jordan's King Hussein and President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and
supported the conference.
Shamir has said accepting an international conference would be tanta-
mount to agreeing to a Palestinian state and Israeli withdrawal from
occupied lands, which his right-wing Likud Bloc opposes.
Manigat wins Haitian election
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - University professor Leslie Manigat
won Haiti's presidential election with more than 50 percent of the vote,
election officials said.
Opposition leaders said the election run by the ruling junta-was a
Manigat garnered 50.3 percent, or 534,080 votes out of a total of
1,062,016 votes cast in the Jan. 17 election, according to results released
by the government-appointed Electoral Council.
The three-man junta that has ruled this impoverished Caribbean nation
since dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier fled to exile in France in February
1986 has promised to turn over power to an elected president on Feb. 7.
Irregularities noted by various observers included multiple voting,
voting by minors and ballot-buying.
Contra aid divides Congress
WASHINGTON - An impending congressional showdown over aid
to the Nicaraguan Contra rebels has triggered a round of intense lobbying
aimed at about five dozen "swing" lawmakers. But manyof those targeted
say they are relatively unaffected by the pressure being put on them by
the Reagan administration, and are watching developments in Central
America before making last-minute voting decisions.
President Reagan is expected to renew his plea for aid to the Contras in
Monday night's State of the Union speech, then follow it with a formal
request to Congress Tuesday or Wednesday.
Both sides expect a close vote. The issue is drawn more starkly than in
previous votes because if the Reagan administration loses and Congress
votes against Contra aid, all aid to the rebels ends February 29.
World health 'experts join
forces to combat AIDS
LONDON - Health officials from 145 countries are gathering in
London this week for a world AIDS summit at which they will plan a
global assault on the deadly epidemic.
The three-day conference, which opens Tuesday, will be the largest
meeting of government ministers ever held on a single health problem,
according to the World Health Organization.
Unlike conferences involving medical experts working on vaccines
and treatments for AIDS, this summit deals mainly with government ef-
forts to control the spread of acquired deficiency syndrome.
Goals of the conference include: presenting guidelines for AIDS pre-
vention and control and considering how they can be used as part of a
global strategy, providing an update on the global AIDS situation, and
reviewing national policies for slowing the spread of AIDS.
Daily Libels lose once again
to unknown team, 30-26
The Daily Libels' all-star hoop squad, in yet another display of hack-
'em-up intramural basketball, lost yesterday, 30-26.
Again, none of us could remember the other team's name. And we're
even a little shaky about the score.
But hey, who cares? About 12 of us ran around like chickens with our
heads cut off for 40 minutes. We were the only team on three courts at
the Intramural Building with six bellowing coaches, each trying to
bestow different advice at once.
No individual statistics were kept (what did you expect when we can
hardly remember the score?), but sources on the team said sports staffer
Julie Hollman led the Libels' attack with her four-point baskets inside the
Assistant Sports Editor Adam Ochlis (depending on who you ask)
probably highlighted the outside scoring, which wasn't that impressive
because we shot about 15 percent from the field.
Assistant Sports Editor.Darren Jasey (playing under an assumed name
because he graduated last winter) and Arts Editor Brian Bonet engineered
the bone-crushing Libel offense.
0 he Mtchtgan atlg
Vol. XCVIII - No.49
The Michigan Daily (ISSN 0745-967) is published Monday
through Friday during the fall and winter terms by students at the
University of Michigan. Subscription rates: January through April
- $15 in Ann Arbor, $22 outside the city. 1988 spring, summer,
and fall term rates not yet available.
The Michigan Daily is a member of The Associated Press and the
National Student News Service.
Editor in Chief..........................................ROB EARLE Film.........................................JOHN SHEA
Managing Editor......:..............................AMY MINDELL Theater...........JENNIFER KOHN
News Editor........................................PHILIP L LEVY ARTS STAFF: V.J. Beauchamp, Scott Collins, Robert
City Editor.............................................MELISSA BIRKS Flaggert, Timothy Huet, Brian Jarvinen, Avra
Features Editor.......................................MARTIN FRANK Kouffman, David Peltz, Mike Rubin, Mark Shaiman,
University Editor.................................KERY MURAKAMI Todd Shanker, Lauren Shapiro, Chuck Skarsaune,
NEWS STAFF: Elizabeth Atkins, Francie Arenson, Mark Swartz, Marc S. Taras.
Vicki Bauer, Eve Becker, Keith Brand, Jim Bray, Dov Photo Editors........... .....SCOTT LITUCHY
Cohen, Hampton Dellinger, Sheala Durant, Heather ANDI SCHREIBER
Eurich, Steve Knopper, Michael Lustig, Alyssa PHOTO STAFF: Karen Handelman, Ellen Levy,
Lustigman, Andrew Mills, Peter Orner, Lisa Pollak, Robin Loznak, David Lubliner, John Munson.
Jim Poniewozik, Melissa Ramsdell, David Schwartz, Weekend Editors...............REBECCA BLUMENSTEIN
Martha Sevetson, Steve Tuch, Ryan Tutak, Rose ALAN PAUL
Mary Wummel. WEEKEND STAFF: Stephen Gregory, Fred Zinn.
Opinion Page Editors..........................PETER MOONEY Display Sales Manager...........ANNE KUBEK
HENRY PARK Assistant Display Sales Manager......KAREN BROWN
Assoc. Opinion Page Editor.....CALE SOUTHWORTH DISPLAY SALES STAFF: David Bauman, Gail
OPINION PAGE STAFF: Muzammil Ahmed,- Belenson, Lauren Berman, Sherri Blansky, Pam
Rosemary Chinnock, Molly Daggett, Noah Finkel, Jim Bullock,;Jeff Chen, Tammy Christie, Mton Feld, Lisa
Herron, Eric L. Holt, Joshua Ray Levin, I. Matthew George, Michelle Gill, Matt Lane, Heather
Miller, Steve Semenuk, Mark Weisbrot. MacLachlan, Jodi Manchik, Eddy Meng, Jackie
Sports Editor......................................SCOTT G. MILLER Miller, Shelly Pleva, Debbie Retzky, Jim Ryan, Laura
Associate Sports Editors.....................DARREN JASEY Schlanger, Michelle Slavik, Mary Snyder, Marie
RICK KAPLAN Soma, Cassie Vogel. Bruce Weiss.
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