This past Sunday, CBS News/60 Minutes had a segment on Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn and the use of the N-word, A publishing company in Alabama edited out the N-word and replaced it with the word, "slave". They did that because of the controversy over the use of the N-word and the threat of banning the book in the school district.
Literature remains classic because of what was written and how it was written. If one changes the author's intent by changing the words, it is no longer the author's writing and the revision changes the message, thereby robbing the writing of it's classic appeal. So I believe that the N-word should remain in its original form. More important, the classroom teacher should take the time to use the controversy as a 'teachable moment' thereby educating the students not only with great literature but with sensitivity to diversity in our world. Huckleberry Finn is a classic because it still causes one to pause and think, hopefully to grow in the experience.