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Why book banning must end: Ignorance is not bliss

“Ignorance is not bliss. It’s deadly!”  
These were the words of my favorite teacher — Shirley Owens Prince. The rising movement to ban library books calls her to mind. She was a fiery Black woman with a booming voice. On Tuesday nights in a North Memphis church, she taught a weekly Bible study. As she struggled with failing health, our teacher was determined to disrupt our ignorance with books.  

In one breath she spoke about Jesus. In the next breath, she encouraged students to read thought-provoking titles like Dostoevsky’s “Brothers Karamazov,” Howard Thurman’s “Meditations of the Heart,” and Margaret Walker’s “Jubilee.” Her book list challenged us to tackle literature we never read in school.  

As a writer and public educator with 30 years of service, I am duty-bound to dispense knowledge because ignorance hinders democracy. Ignorance hurts the masses. And to raise young scholars who will be tomorrow’s critical thinkers, freedom workers, and educated voters, students need access to uncensored libraries and history books that do not color the facts.  

In the shouting words of my preaching teacher, Shirley Owens Prince, “Make it plain! Make it plain!” In my pursuit of words and writing — that is what I aim to do.  

Alice Faye Duncan is a retired educator who writes award-winning picture books for young learners. Her new books for Fall 2023 include “Coretta’s Journey” and “Traveling Shoes.” As a blues music enthusiast, she is also the author of “Yellow Dog Blues” and the rocking Gospel, “This Train Is Bound For Glory.” You can find more books from this author at 


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