1955 September 1

Huck Finn Whitewashed: No Slavery, No African-Americans in TV Movie


A CBS television production of Mark Twain’s classic American novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, omitted the character Nigger Jim, who is central to the novel, and also any mention of slavery. In the 1950s, race was still too sensitive a subject for national television. See the Nat King Cole television show that began on November 5, 1956, ran for a year on NBS, was not carried by Southern stations, and was then cancelled.

This incident of censorship was only one in the long history of Mark Twain’s famous novel, which has been characterized by literary critics as “born to trouble.” Mainly because of its use of the word “nigger,” it is one of the most frequently banned or challenged books in American schools and libraries. According to Banned Books (Robert P. Doyle, ed.) it was banned or challenged 26 times in the 1990s alone. In 1930. the Soviet Union seized at its border all copies of Huckleberry Finn and Twain’s Tom Sawyer.

Check the cast for yourself. Find the Movie at IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046684/

Read a discussion of the history of censorship of Huckleberry Finn here.

Huckleberry Finn is one of the most censored books in American history. Find the PBS Documentary: Born to Trouble: Adventures of Huck Finn (2000): http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/cultureshock/beyond/huck.html

Read the PBS Study Guide: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/cultureshock/teachers/huck/filmindex.html

And read: Henry Peaches, The Struggle for Tolerance: Race and Censorship in Huckleberry Finn (1992)

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