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Scottsboro Trials and To Kill a Mockingbird

History influences Harper Lee to write her novel.
by

Kori Teague

on 18 May 2010

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Transcript of Scottsboro Trials and To Kill a Mockingbird

Scottsboro Trials http://globalgavel.com/page/3/ To Kill a Mockingbird "Thomas Jefferson once said that all men are created equal, a phrase that the Yankees and the distaff side of the Executive branch in Washington are fond of hurling at us. "There is a tendency in this year of grace, 1935, for certain people to use this phrase out of context, to satisfy all conditions. "We know all men are not created equal in the sense some people would have us believe... "...there is one human institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the Stupid man the equal of an Einstein, and the ignorant man the equal of any college president. "Precisely because the Scottsboro Case is an expression of the horrible national oppression of the Negro masses, any real fight...must necessarily take the character of a struggle against the whole brutal system of landlord robbery and imperialist national opression of the Negro people."
--Daily Worker (January 31, 1933) "But there is one way in this country in which all men are created equal... "That institution, gentlemen, is a court" (Lee 205).
History is reflected in literature. If this is true, then what influenced To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee? On top of economic stress resulting from the stock market crash in 1929, certain individuals in the nation were fighting against racial inequality. Imagine 1931. However, in the Deep South (places like Alabama), people did not try to be fair to all races of people. Negroes were seen differently than White Americans. They were mistreated and faced discrimination. A black man did not have all the rights of a white man. The trials begins “with a fairly clear cut issue of black and white, of sexuality, of rape. Then it becomes [increasingly] confused” (Scottsboro) This story begins on March 25, 1931. 1929--Stock Market crash begins the Great Depression. March 1931--Southern Rail Corporation freight train leaves Tennessee heading west. About two dozen hoboes, black and white, are on board of this train. When an accident occurs between one white and one black hobo, a fight begins. 1926--Harper Lee is born Alabama train station (Scottsboro Timeline) Victoria Price and Ruby Bates claim to have been raped by a gang of nine Negro boys. They explain the offense to policemen, and those accused are taken to Scottsboro, Alabama, for trial. Four days later, the court indicts the "Scottsboro Boys" (Scottsboro Timeline).
April 1931--All nine boys are convicted and given the death sentence (Scottsboro Timeline). Scottsboro boys (Scottsboro) Scottsboro To Kill a Mockingbird July 1927--Rape charges are dropped 1930s--Lee and the character modeled after her, Scout, grow up in a time of racism and economic struggle. In the novel, "Atticus Finch, a lawyer and a father, defends a black man, Tom Robinson, who is accused of raping a poor white girl, Mayella Ewell" (Harper Lee Biography). 1930s--Atticus's defendent, Robinson, is tried as guilty. When he tries to run away from the jail to avoid the death penalty, he is shot and killed by an officer. http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_kpg99zwbJU1qzh181o1_500.jpg Scout and Atticus Six-year-old Jean Louise "Scout" Finch recognizes inequality. Young children see things for how they are. Nothing muddles their vision or alters their views. Growing up in the '30s opens Scout's eyes to a whole new world of harsh discrimination--a concept foreign to her. Harper Lee places Scout's character in a situation similar to that of her childhood: an ongoing trial concerning rape victims accusing black men who are eventually convicted of the crime. Like in history, To Kill a Mockingbird shows discrimination and segregation, sometimes costing those who segregation is directed towards their lives.
Harper Lee grew up in the time of the Great Depression and segregation. Seeing the trials taking place during her childhood caused her to recognize the omnipotent discrimination. In her book, Scout's father and Robinson's lawyer, Atticus fought long and hard on the case of Tom Robinson. The lawyers fighting for the Scottsboro boys asked them to give up, claiming there was not much hope in the boys winning the case (Scottsboro). If someone had fought as hard for the Scottsboro boys as Atticus fought for Robinson, maybe the boys would have spent no time in jail, and the whole trial could have been avoided. Atticus believed the trial could be won, and if Tom hadn't tried to run, there is a good chance Atticus could have won the jury vote for Tom to be released of the offense. Hope like Atticus's should be admired, and more people should try as hard as he did for the right things--the moral, just, fair things--to be accomplished. Works Cited
"American Experience | Scottsboro: An American Tragedy | Timeline." PBS. Web. 12 May 2010.
"American Experience | Scottsboro: An American Tragedy | Transcript." PBS. Web. 12 May 2010.
"American Experience | Scottsboro: An American Tragedy | Special Features." PBS. Web. 12 May 2010.
HarperLee.com. Web. 12 May 2010.
Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1960. Print.
"Harper Lee Biography." HarperLee.com. Web. 17 May 2010. <http://harperlee.com/bio.htm>. Ruby Bates Victoria Price (Victoria Price) (Ruby Bates) By: Kori Teague The Scottsboro trials took place in a time of discrimination in the segregated south. Why does Harper Lee write her book in a way that reflects events in history? Perhaps his hard work reflects how Lee wishes the Scottsboro trials had been handled--with hope and determination from those in charge of influencing the verdict. Harper Lee grew up in the 1930's in Alabama, just like Scout African American boys are falsely accused of raping two low-class white girls in Scottsboro. An African American is falsely accused of raping a poor white girl in the book. Both juries ignored all evidence proving the convicted's innocence. No matter now much proof was displayed showing that the African Americans did not commit the offense, none of the jurors payed attention to the facts. The time and place of both the novel and the trials were in rural towns in Alabama during the 1930's. The verdicts of both the trials and To Kill a Mockingbird were based on race. The cases were "as simple as black and white" (Lee 203). Tom Robinson is created by Harper Lee to depict the nine Scottsboro boys. Tom is a hardworking, helping African American man who is accused of raping Mayella Ewell by her father, Bob Ewell. Evidence is on Tom's side, but the verdict proves to not be concerned with evidence. Tom, like the Scottsboro boys, was convicted and sentenced to death by the jury of his trial. Harper Lee's childhood was influenced by the events of the Scottsboro trials, and those events moved her to write a book which displays the inequality she recognized at an early age.
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