Not a single book about the late African-Puerto Rican MLB legend Roberto Clemente can be found on the shelves of public school libraries in Duval County, Florida, today.
“Roberto Clemente: Proud Jonah Winter and Raúl Colón’s Pirates of Pittsburgh and other books about Latino characters , such as the late Afro-Cuban salsa dancer Celia Cruz and Justice Sonia Sotomayor, both of whom more than 1 million copies were “covered or One of the books in “stored and suspended” is available to students in the Duval County Public School District, according to Chief Academic Officer Paula Renfro.
School officials are determining whether such books comply with state law and can be included School libraries.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed law last year requiring schools to rely on certified media experts to approve which books can be integrated into classrooms. Guidance provided to schools on how to implement In Dec.
Books must align with state’s not teaching K-3 students standards like gender identity and sexual orientation; not teaching critical race theory, which examines the systemic nature of American society, in public elementary schools Racism; excludes references to pornography and discrimination, according to the district.
In January, Duval’s 52 certified media specialists began reviewing approximately 1.5 million books, Sonya Duke- Bolden, spokeswoman Sonya Duke-Bolden Public School District told NBC News Friday. Media experts have approved nearly 2,800 books to date. Duke-Bolden did not say whether more books were reviewed but not approved.
PEN America, a nonprofit that advocates for literary free expression, said in December that their Essential Voices collection of 176 elementary school books was among the titles removed from the Duval County Public Schools library
The removed books included some alternate titles and more than 100 books deemed “too mature for the grade level for which they were included in the collection,” the group said.
Duke-Bolden said 47 alternate titles were returned for titles not available in the Essential Voices series, Of the 170+ books, “106 were deemed useful for our reading goals and distributed to classrooms,” while the other 26 books are still under review.
“Please Note that even though the title may seem appropriate, we must assess whether the entire content of each book is appropriate for its age group and fully compliant with Florida law,” added Duke-Bolden.
More than 30 of the books removed from Duval County were by Latino authors and illustrators or had Latino-centric characters and stories. These include “Celia Cruz, Queen of Salsa” by Veronica Chambers and Julie Maren, “Sonia Sotomayor (Women Who Break the Rules)” by Kathleen Krull and Angela Dominguez, and Winter’s Clemente book.
The son of Pittsburgh Pirates player Roberto Clemente Jr. told NBC News that he owns the book , which is written for K-3 children.
“His story is his story. He experienced racism. That can’t be changed,” Clement Jr. said. “But obviously, for younger students, if they feel like it’s too much for them, they might be able to use another book that tells the same story, but for them it’s framed differently. Yes, for that age.”
Clemente Jr. added that he hopes his father’s life story and legacy will empower people of all ages.
LatinoJustice PRLDEF, a New York-based Latino civil rights group, blasted Duval’s school district for removing Clement’s book for “references to racism and discrimination.”
“Learning about Clemente’s accomplishments, his pride in his Afro-Boricua identity, and his struggle against racism and discrimination will provide essential insight into the historical condition of America and provide Duval County with The school’s majority Black and Latino students provide inspiration,” LatinoJustice PRLDEF President and General Counsel Lourdes Rosado said in a statement. “They make a huge contribution to our society and our culture. Our children deserve a full understanding of our society’s weaknesses and strengths,” said Rosado.
Clemente at He died in 1972 when his plane crashed off the coast of Puerto Rico while delivering relief to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. He was 38 years old at the time.
Aside from his professional baseball career, his humanitarian efforts are perhaps his greatest legacy. Clemente posthumously became a Baseball Hall of Famer with exactly 3,000 hits, four National League batting titles, 12 Gold Gloves, an MVP Award, two World Series titles and 15 All-Star games.
Clemente often denounces racism and discrimination in his native Spanish, and speaks openly about his experience as a black Latino climbing the baseball ranks during the civil rights movement. He even talks political and social issues with Martin Luther King Jr.
. She could not immediately share the status of reviews of Cruz and Sotomayor’s books.
Cruz, known as the Queen of Salsa, was one of the most famous Latin music artists of the 20th century. Sotomayor is the first Hispanic and the third woman to serve on the Supreme Court.
Clemente Jr. and his family are waiting to see what happens with the book about the baseball great and plan to contact the school district sometime next week.
“We need to keep figuring out how to continue the dialogue and unify our culture and our nation,” he said.