How Removing Toni Morrison’s Beloved From Curriculum Helped Glenn Youngkin Win in Virginia
Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize–winning 1987 novel, Beloved, is a ghost story that forces readers to confront America’s legacy of slavery—of racism, subjugation, and murder—and consider how it still haunts us today. One Virginia mother’s quixotic bid to remove the book from her school district’s Advanced Placement English curriculum indirectly led to the election of Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin. Education’s move to the forefront of modern culture war politics has a great deal to do with Beloved.
Morrison drew inspiration from the true story of Margaret Garner, an enslaved black woman who fled her plantation in 1856. When slave catchers caught her, she killed her own daughter rather than see the child returned to a life of slavery. She tried—but failed—to kill herself and her other children as well.
Beloved takes place in 1873; the main character, Sethe, is a former slave. Much like the real-life Garner, Sethe killed a daughter to prevent her recapture. Following emancipation, she lives in a haunted house with her guilt and her surviving children, who fea
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