Transcript of To Kill A Mockingbird Introduction
To Kill A Mockingbird Alabama in the 1930s To Kill A Mockingbird Harper Lee Racial Tensions Inspiration for the Novel A Sign of the Times The Scottsboro Trial America in the 1960s A Time Of Struggle The Thirteenth Amendment The Great Depression Jim Crow laws Roots of Racism The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution was adopted in 1865 after the end of the Civil War. Although the amendment outlawed slavery in the United States, it did little to change attitudes of prejudice toward African-Americans, especially in the Southern states. The Jim Crow laws were state and local laws in the United States enacted between 1876 and 1965. The laws made it legal to enforce racial segregation in public facilities. Examples include the segregation of public schools, public transportation, restrooms, restaurants and drinking fountains. On October 29, 1929 the United States stock market crashed, plunging the country (and eventually the rest of the world) into a deep depression. The effects on the American people were devastating. Personal income, tax revenue, profits and prices dropped dramatically while the unemployment rate increased. Life in Alabama in the 1930s was difficult for everybody but African-Americans were especially hard-hit. African-Americans were less likely to find employment unless it was as a servant to a white employer. For many white children, their only interaction with blacks was with those employed in their home. It was typical for African-Americans to be employed as cooks, nannies (often referred to as "nurses") or farmhands. "To Kill A Mockingbird" was published in 1960. During this time, the civil rights movement was gaining steam as activists such as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X challenged discrimination against African-Americans. Lee's novel was a reflection of shifting attitudes towards blacks in America and a growing social conscience. The book was an instant bestseller and the Washington Post praised it for its moral impact: "A hundred pounds of sermons on tolerance, or an equal measure of invective deploring the lack of it, will weigh far less in the scale of enlightenment than a mere 18 ounces of new fiction bearing the title 'To Kill A Mockingbird.'" -Harper Lee was born on April 28, 1926 in Monroeville, Alabama, a town upon which the fictional town of Maycomb is loosely based. Full transcript
-As a child, Lee was what we would call a "tomboy." She fought on the playground, talked back to teachers, was bored with school and resisted any sort of conformity. The character of Scout in the novel also exhibits many of these characteristics. The 1930s were a turbulent time for race relations in America. Racism was as strong as ever in the Southern states, prompting many African-Americans to move further north in hopes of finding more tolerant conditions. Blacks in the south had virtually no say in political decisions and the justice system was notoriously biased against African-Americans. During this time, lynchings were common, in which an accused criminal was hung by a "lynch mob" prior to receiving a trial. -Lee was childhood friends with Truman Capote, who would later go on to become a very famous author, himself. The character of Dill is said to have been inspired by Capote.
-Lee's father was a title lawyer who once defended two black men accused of murdering a white storekeeper. Both clients, a father and son, were hanged. The Scottsboro Boys were nine black teenage boys falsely accused of raping in Scottsboro, Alabama in 1931. The boys were found guilty by an all-white jury and the case sparked widespread criticism, raising questions about the likelihood of African-Americans to receive fair trials.