A couple of days ago, PEN America released a letter written alongside We Need Diverse Books, authors, and illustrators to return 176 books that were pulled from Duval County’s classrooms and libraries. These titles were apparently removed from classrooms in January 2022 for “review” and there’s little indication of when they’ll ever be returned.
Among the books that are being reviewed by Duval County is “Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates.”
Born Roberto Enrique Clemente Walker in Carolina, Puerto Rico, he was the first Afro-Latino inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Often referred to as “The Great One,” the iconic athlete was also a humanitarian and an advocate for racial equality in the United States.
But more than 50 years after his death, the values he stood for are being muted thanks to those who are opposed to Critical Race Theory being taught.
Though his story is important to athletes everywhere, it also has a deep significance to the Latino and Caribbean communities. Yet, his son, Roberto Clemente Jr., seems to be in agreement with Duval County’s decision.
“It’s a great book and a book that anyone can read, and the middle schoolers, I don’t see an issue, but the younger ones absolutely, I do agree,” Clemente Jr. told WTAE News.
The esteemed baseball player’s son informed WTAE News that he was upset at first, but he changed his mind when he saw the references to racism in the book.
“I think that quote for a young child could be of great impact in terms of seeing color like that, and there is a consequence for me being this color if there is no separation from the beginning,” Clemente Jr. continued.
While alive, however, his father fought against racism, challenged anyone who believed Black people were “second-class” citizens and even hung out with Dr. Marin Luther King, Jr.
Not everyone is in agreement with Roberto Clemente’s son
The book in question, “Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates” was published in 2005 and written by Jonah Winter. The book on Clemente does mention the struggles he faced due to racism. Here’s a quick excerpt from the book:
“On an island called Puerto Rico, there lived a little boy who wanted only to play baseball. Although he had no money, Roberto Clemente practiced and practiced until—eventually—he made it to the Major Leagues. As a right-fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates, he fought tough opponents—and even tougher racism—but with his unreal catches and swift feet, he earned his nickname, “The Great One.” He led the Pirates to two World Series, hit three-thousand hits, and was the first Latino to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. But it wasn’t just baseball that made Clemente legendary—he was also a humanitarian dedicated to improving the lives of others.”
Winter, the author of the book, on the other hand, condemns Duval County’s decision to remove “Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates” from classrooms and libraries.
What are your thoughts?