A school district in Alabama canceled three planned Black History Month appearances by children’s book author Derrick Barnes following a complaint from a parent, AL.com reports.
Barnes had been scheduled to visit three elementary schools in Hoover, Alabama, a city near Birmingham, in February. The district called off the appearances, claiming that Barnes failed to give information it needed for him to visit.
Dee Fowler, the district’s superintendent, also said that a principal had fielded a complaint from a parent who said that Barnes had posted “controversial ideas” on social media. “This guy’s kind of controversial and so a contract would be very much needed,” Fowler told AL.com.
Barnes has won extensive critical acclaim for his children’s books. His 2017 book Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut won a Coretta Scott King (Author) Award and the Kirkus Prize. I Am Every Good Thing, published in 2020, also won the Kirkus Prize, making him the only author to win the award twice. Both titles were illustrated by Gordon C. James.
Barnes reacted to the cancelation of his visits on Instagram, writing, “God bless the educators and media specialists that do their best to bring us to their schools, only to have things stirred up and halted by a few parents or school board members who simply want their children to be held from the truth and kept uninformed. Pray for the babies, y’all.”
Michael Schaub, a journalist and regular contributor to NPR, lives near Austin, Texas.