‘It’s the racial stuff’: Illinois prison banned, removed books on black history and empowerment from inmate education program

YQQV26QAF5HP7A7Q6PX6JW2FPMSource: Chicago Tribune


Officials at an Illinois prison suspended an educational program for inmates, launched two internal investigations and removed 200 books from a prison library because many had “racial” content or addressed issues like diversity and inclusion, according to records obtained by the Tribune.

Danville Correctional Center officials also prohibited for use in the University of Illinois program several classic books of African American history, including “The Souls of Black Folk,” the anti-slavery novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and the memoir of former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

Hundreds of pages of records released by the Illinois Department of Corrections in response to Freedom of Information Act requests paint the clearest picture yet of the origins of the dispute between IDOC and the Education Justice Project. And while the department’s public statements about the controversy emphasized that the books had not been appropriately reviewed, internal IDOC emails and other documents show that the program was swiftly suspended and the books removed after the race-related themes of the some of the content were flagged.

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