North Carolina Library Faces Collection Challenge

Just in time for Banned Books Week, the Granville County Library system, in North Carolina, is facing a censorship request. Local citizen, Rev. Curtis E. Gatewood is demanding the removal of the 1915 film “Birth of a Nation” from the library’s collection. Rev. Gatewood is quoted as saying

“Allowing the movie to be circulated through public systems such as the library is equivalent to publicly providing materials that would support, celebrate, and recruit members to join violent groups such as those who rained ‘terror’ on this nation September 11, 2001.”

While unapologetically and blatantly racist, the film is considered a groundbreaking film in terms of cinematic technique. It is also historical significant in its contribution to the rise of the Ku Klux Klan in the early 20th century. The library director Louise Dorton says that this is the first challenge to the film in the three years it has been in the collection. Dorton wishes to meet with Gatewood to see if some sort of compromise would satisfy his concerns and still keep the movie on the shelf. If Rev Gatewood files an official complaint, then a special committee comprised of a library board member, staff member and a member of the community will review the movie and decided whether it should be removed.