Virginia’s Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin caused public uproar this week when he released a political ad featuring a white mother who advocated banning Toni Morrison’s novel “Beloved” from schools. The woman, Laura Murphy, describes the book as “some of the most explicit material you can imagine.” In 2013, Murphy fought to have the “Beloved bill” passed, which was eventually vetoed by Governor Terry McAuliffe, who is running again for governor against Youngkin in the current race. Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel tells the story of a family of former enslaved people set after the American Civil War. Dana Williams, professor of African American literature at Howard University, says the fight over “parents’ rights” has become a racist dog whistle. “Books like ‘Beloved’ really do force us to have real conversations about history,” she says.
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