Book referencing MLB legend Roberto Clemente’s discrimination claims removed from Florida schools

According to Duval County Schools, all books must be certified by a media specialist. 

A book about legendary Afro-Puerto Rican MLB player Roberto Clemente is among the list of more than one million critical race theory-themed titles that were pulled from the shelves of many public school libraries in Florida.

As NBC News reports, “Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates” by Jonah Winter and Raúl Colón unpacks the late baseball star’s time with the Pirates, his community activism and humanitarian work as well as the racial discrimination that Clemente was subjected to. 

The illustrated book for children and several other titles about Latino figures and authors who cover critical race theory and queer theory were pulled from classrooms in Duval County, which includes Jacksonville. The move is part of the assessment of whether school libraries should carry such books, as school officials are trying to determine if they comply with state laws.

According to Duval County Schools, all books must be certified by a media specialist. 

Books about late Afro-Cuban salsa singer Celia Cruz and Justice Sonia Sotomayor are also among the books that are “covered or stored and paused for student use” at the Duval County Public Schools District, according to Chief Academic Officer Paula Renfro.

In 1972, Clemente died at age 38 after his plane crashed off the coast of Puerto Rico while transporting relief supplies into Nicaragua for earthquake victims. Critics of Florida Governor Ron Desantis’ school book policies claim the book about Clemente’s life and career was pulled because it references racism and discrimination.

“You cannot erase history. That is part of history. That was part of his makeup as a human being and what he went through,” Clemente’s son Roberto Clemente Jr. said over Zoom about the decision, CBS News reports. Clemente Jr. owns the book about his father, which was written for children in grades K–3.

World Series - Houston Astros v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Three
Baseball legend Roberto Clemente’s sons Luis Clemente (L) and Roberto Clemente Jr. (R) speak to the media announcing Justin Turner as the winner of the 2022 Roberto Clemente Award prior to Game Three of the 2022 World Series at Citizens Bank Park on Oct. 31, 2022, in Philadelphia. A 2008 children’s book about the life of Roberto Clemente has been banned from schools in Duval County, Florida, for its references to the racial bigotry the athlete experienced during his career. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

“His story is his story. He went through racism. It’s something that can’t be changed,” Clemente Jr. told NBC News. “But obviously, for the younger students, if it’s something that they feel is too much for them, they might be able to utilize a different book with the same story, but it’s framed differently for them, for that age group.”

Lourdes Rosado, president and general counsel at the New York-based civil rights organization LatinoJustice PRLDEF, said in a statement that the book serves as “inspiration for the majority Black and Latino student population in Duval County schools.”

“Our children deserve to understand the full scope of our society’s flaws and strengths,” Rosado said.

As theGrio’s Natasha S. Alford explained on TheGrio Weekly, DeSantis “blames everything from subjects like reparations advocacy, and intersectionality, to Black queer theory as being ‘political indoctrination’ on students.”

Last year, the governor signed legislation dubbed the Stop WOKE Act that restricts certain race-based conversations and analysis, in schools and businesses, theGrio reported citing The Associated Press.

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