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City council member's book donation ensures TUSD students remember the Holocaust

Featuring "Maus" and "Maus II" by Art Spiegelman
Posted at 4:18 PM, Feb 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-18 18:34:17-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Ward 2 Council Member Paul Cunningham is donating multiple copies of the graphic novels Maus and Maus II to high schools within the Tucson Unified School District.

A Tennessee school board recently removed both books from its curriculum, causing national attention which shot Maus up to the number one spot on Amazon’s best seller list decades after it was first published.

This curriculum removal inspired Cunningham's donation.

"Maus tells the story of the Holocaust in an accessible way," he described. "It’s important for young people to be able to have the opportunity to read these books."

The first graphic novel won both the Eisner and Harvey awards. Author Art Spiegelman earned a Pulitzer Prize for his work too.

"Growing up as Jewish in Tucson you're taught about the holocaust and you're also taught to never forget and to reminder others. And you promise to do it... I made a promise to do that... so I'm keeping that promise," shared Cunnigham.

While enrolled in the University of Arizona, Cunningham reveals Maus was required reading in a course on the Holocaust.

He's baffled at the people who object to such genres.

"If there are people who find parts of it objectionable, I don’t know what to tell them," added Cunningham. "It’s a telling of the biggest atrocity of the 20th century. It isn’t a bedtime story to make people feel comfortable."

He is currently a teacher at Gridley Middle School. In addition to being a Tucson native, he also grew up knowing Holocaust survivors.

"I met dozens of Holocaust survivors over the years; they entrusted my generation to never forget," he said. "I promised them I wouldn't. I am keeping that promise."

That why he has decided to donate 10 copies of each graphic novel for local, high school students.