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The revered book, “Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates,” removed from Florida schools




… a fabulous athlete, great humanitarian


On a dismal final day of 1972 in Puerto Rico, Roberto Clemente, a baseball player for the Pittsburgh Pirates who had just knocked out his 3,000th hit earlier in the year, worked with four other people to load a plane to help his fellow man.


His story is one that every child in the United States of America should read, how he battled from poverty to become one of the greatest outfielders in American baseball history. He overcame prejudice against blacks and hispanics to become a veritable star in America.

I never read the book about his life, although I have read hundreds of stories about it -- but I ordered it today.


After I finish reading it, I will send it to a library in Florida because the kids there are not allowed to read it.


Roberto the man


While a great player, Roberto the man was something else. Perhaps he should never have flown that plane that day, but he was committed to helping the people in Nicaragua, and they could not wait.


Here is what happened on that fateful day, according to History.com,


Dec. 31, 1972


Roberto Clemente, future Hall of Fame baseball player, is killed along with four others when the cargo plane in which he is traveling crashes off the coast of Puerto Rico. Clemente was on his way to deliver relief supplies to Nicaragua following a devastating earthquake there a week earlier.


At the end of September, Clemente had gotten his 3,000th hit in the final game of the season for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was a hero in his native Puerto Rico, where he spent much of the off-season doing charity work. Some of his charitable work had taken him to Nicaragua, so Clemente was particularly distressed when he learned that very little aid was getting to victims of a devastating December 23 earthquake near Managua.


“Baseball star Roberto Clemente dies in plane crash,” History.com, current.


Today, however, those young people in Florida who should be reading about the life of this wonderful cannot do so.


Removed from schools


A story broke last week that outlined why the story of Roberto Clemente and another one about the great slugger Hank Aaron are not on the shelves on schools in that state,


A book about late Afro-Puerto Rican MLB legend Roberto Clemente can't be found in the shelves of public school libraries in Florida's Duval County these days.


“Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates” by Jonah Winter and Raúl Colón — and other books about Latino figures such as the late Afro-Cuban salsa singer Celia Cruz and Justice Sonia Sotomayor — are among the more than 1 million titles that have been "covered or stored and paused for student use” at the Duval County Public Schools District, according to Chief Academic Officer Paula Renfro.


School officials are in the process of determining if such books comply with state laws and can be included in school libraries.


Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed laws last year that require schools to rely on certified media specialists to approve which books can be integrated into classrooms. Guidance on how that would be implemented was provided to schools in December.


Nicole Acevedo, “Roberto Clemente book removed from Florida public schools pending review over discrimination references,” NBC News, February 10, 2023


Why were they banned?


What was the rationale for doing so? The books that were banned in this district, and probably will be around the South and in other states, did so because they discussed racism,


Clemente was among the greatest Latino heroes in history, not only as an athlete but as a humanitarian and outspoken foe of injustice.


“Clemente often denounced racism and discrimination in his native Spanish language, and he spoke publicly about his experiences as a Black Latino climbing the baseball ranks during the civil rights movement,” NBC News noted. “He even spoke about political and social issues alongside Martin Luther King Jr.”


Apparently, that might not comport with what children in Florida are allowed to learn now.


Nicole Acevedo, NBC News, February 10, 2023


Now, “certified media specialists” must make a decision about what books children may read, not teachers, principals, or other educators — or parents. Many parents cannot afford to have a library for students, so they must rely upon the information in the school libraries.


Not in Florida.



Conclusion


I used to be proud to call myself an American. Today, I am not certain exactly what a true American is.


Take the example of the banning of books, which is exactly what Hitler did with his Third Reich. This indoctrination is called Fascism, and unfortunately, many of those who advocate it wear a lapel pin of the American flag.


Yes, there was and is racism in America. Yes, at one time, slavery existed in the country. It is part of our history. Banning books will not change that history, and we have to accept it as part of our heritage.


Unfortunately, it takes more that the American flag to practice American values for freedom and justice.




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