Florida school district pulls children’s book on Roberto Clemente


 Roberto Clemente of the Pittsburgh Pirates before the opening game of the National League playoffs in October, 1971.

Roberto Clemente of the Pittsburgh Pirates before the opening game of the National League playoffs, October 1971. Photo: Bettmann Archives/Getty Images

A school district in Florida has removed a children’s book on Latino baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente to see if it complies with a new state law limiting discussions about race, Axios has confirmed.

Why it matters: The pulling of “Roberto Clemente: The Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates” is part of a larger purge of books happening nationally amid laws forcing schools and libraries to remove literature about people of color or with LGBTQ themes.

Details: Duval County Public Schools, which includes Jacksonville, Florida, announced late last month that it was “taking further steps to comply with Florida laws on library books.”

  • Those steps include a “formal review of classroom libraries,” the district said. The 2005 illustrated children’s book on Clemente is one of those under review.
  • The district said state officials trained district staff on how to use a “certified media specialist” to approve books.

Catch up fast: Florida is one of 19 states that have passed laws or used executive orders to limit the teaching of what it calls “divisive concepts” or critical race theory since 2021, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures, the American Instructional Resources Survey and an Axios analysis of recent stories.

Reality check: Critical race theory — which holds that racism is baked into the formation of the nation and ingrained in our legal, financial and education systems — was developed in law schools in the 1970s and 1980s and isn’t really taught in grade school.

State of play: PEN America said the Clemente book is one of 176 pulled by Duval County Public Schools since last year.

  • Others include “Barbed Wire Baseball: How One Man Brought Hope to the Japanese Internment Camps of WWII,” by Marissa Moss and Yuko Shimizu.
  • “Henry Aaron’s Dream,” by Matt Tavares, and “My Two Dads and Me,” by Michael Joosten and Izak Zenou, were also pulled from Duval County Public Schools.

The intrigue: The Clemente book references the racism the Black Puerto Rican player faced in the U.S. — something well documented in his interviews and biographies.

  • Duval County Public Schools told WTAE-TV the book is not permanently banned, but it is under review with many others.

What they’re saying: The removal of the Clemente book “is the latest attempt from Florida’s education administrators to score cheap political points at the expense of the education and well-being of Florida’s children,” Lourdes M. Rosado, president and general counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF, said in a statement.

  • “Learning about Clemente’s achievements, his pride in his Afro-Boricua identity and his struggles with racism and discrimination would provide needed insight on historical conditions in the U.S.”
  • Rosado said the book is an inspiration for the majority Black and Latino student population in Duval County schools and should be placed back on the shelves.

Don’t forget: Last year’s World Series had no non-Hispanic Black American players for the first time in 72 years, yet games featured Black Latino stars like Clemente.

  • Afro Latinos are redefining America’s pastime even as the nation can’t define them.

What’s next: The National Council for Black Studies, an organization dedicated to advancing Black Studies, will be holding its annual conference March 22-25 at the University of Florida.

  • Scholars in Black Studies will be coming to Florida in solidarity with other scholars in the state facing pressure to limit classroom materials on race.

5 thoughts on “Florida school district pulls children’s book on Roberto Clemente

  1. Scottie, there is a major fact about one Roberto Clemente, a great baseball player whose career was tragically shortened. He DIED being killed in an airplane crash flying supplies to a hurricane ravaged Dominican Republic, his home country. In his haste to get there, he trusted a pilot who had a airplane in need of repair. The plane went down because of engine failure not the hurricane. He was a true hero, not just because of his excellent talent. And, his life story is under question by an autocratic minded leader? Really? Keith


    1. Scottie, I wrote a post about this. In the comment above, I got some of the facts wrong about Clemente, so please forgive. He is from Puerto Rico and was flying supplies to an earthquake devastated Nicaragua when killed. Keith


  2. What the hell is wrong with the citizens of the state of Florida? Are they so bamboozled by DeSantis that they are willing to change history — to “whitewash” history — by denying that people of colour, or other targets of white bigots, such as yourself, even exist or ever existed?
    What is the purpose of their actions? What is it they hope to accomplish? And why are they even being allowed to try!
    Presumably these people are also climate disaster deniers, while living in an area than may soon be underwater. Are they doing anything to protect against the rising oceans? Are they doing anything to help ameliorate the effects of hurricanes that are growing stronger and stronger.
    I feel for the people of Florida, because Duh!Santis is cheating them of a future. And he is doing this by cheating them of everyone’s past!


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