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Introduction to, To Kill A Mockingbird

-Students will learn about Harper Lee and the historical context of the novel.
by

Ellie Game

on 15 October 2012

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Transcript of Introduction to, To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill A Mockingbird An Introduction Harper Lee 1930's 1960's Prejudices Prejudices cont'd Photos A forceful, nonviolent movement opposed Jim
Crow. In 1909, W.E.B. Dubois cofounded the
National Association for the Advancement of
Colored People (NAACP), leading the twentieth
century civil rights struggle. With opposition from
the Ku Klux Klan, the Civil Rights Movement
struggled through the 1920s and 1930s, marred
by race riots and lynchings. Between 1882 and
1968, some three hundred blacks were lynched in
Alabama alone. Slowly, the federal government and the courts
endorsed the stance of the NAACP and other
organizations. In 1954 the Supreme Court, in
Brown v. Board of Education, ruled that “separate
but equal” school facilities were unconstitutional,
ordering integration in public schools. The next
year Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat
to a white man, leading to the Montgomery Bus
Boycott. In the decade that followed, under the
spiritual and political leadership of Martin Luther
King, Jr., the movement for civil rights expanded,
even if the path was hard and bloody. With the
Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of
1965, and the Civil Rights Act of 1968, the civil
rights of all Americans were established by law. Segregation cont'd Well-intentioned federal law was obscured by the
failure of Reconstruction in the 1870s. Southern
states passed a variety of “Jim Crow” laws
enforcing racial segregation in education, housing,
transportation, and public facilities. Marriage
between blacks and whites was forbidden. For
almost ninety years following Reconstruction,
poll taxes and literacy tests made voting all but
impossible for African Americans. Photos of the great depression http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/depression/photoessay.htm Segregation Civil rights are something most Americans take
for granted today. But millions of Americans
were long denied fundamental democratic rights:
voting, freedom of movement, due process, and
equal protection under the law. At the end of the
Civil War, the U.S. government began passing
constitutional amendments and civil rights
legislation on everything from voting rights to the
right to own property and appear in court. The
Civil Rights Movement in America really began as
a newly freed African American population
demanded rights. The 1929 stock market crash set into motion a series of events that plunged America into its greatest economic depression. By 1933, the country’s gross national product had been nearly cut in half, and 16 million Americans were unemployed. Not until 1937 did the New Deal policies of President Franklin Roosevelt temper the catastrophe. This economic downturn persisted until the massive investment in national defense demanded by World War II. Nelle Harper Lee was born on April 28, 1926,
in Monroeville, Alabama. Her father, Amasa
Coleman Lee, was a lawyer, newspaper editor, and
state senator during her formative years. Harper
Lee’s childhood in a small Southern town decades
before the triumph of the Civil Rights Movement
provided all the material she needed for her
celebrated, and only, novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Background Lee's Inspiration Maycomb (the setting of To Kill a Mockingbird), bears a striking resemblance to the small town of Monroeville, Alabama, where Lee grew up in the 1930's. Like Scout, the narrator of the novel, Lee's family had deep roots in the Alabama. After graduating from college, Lee went to NYC to become a writer. For several years her work was rejected by publishers. Soon after, she wrote To Kill A Mockingbird and it was published in 1960. The novel became an instant hit and won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction the following year. Two years after publication, the novel was adapted for film. To Kill A Mockingbird was the only book Harper Lee ever published. Harper Lee
April 28, 1926 - The Great Depression The Great Depression Cont'd The causes of the Depression were many, and still debated. High spending in the 1920s created a gap preventing working class people
from increasing their incomes. The trade policies of earlier administrations increased the cost of American goods abroad.
Lines of credit were overextended, which fueled speculation on Wall Street. The crash that occurred on October 29, 1929 (“Black Tuesday”) soon spread across the world, ruining European economies not fully recovered from World War I. Photos Sources http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/depression/photoessay.htm http://www.neabigread.org/books/mockingbird/teachersguide02.php The End http://www.harperlee.com/bio.htm More On Lee The Great Depression hit families who had felt insulated from economic crises. Families who based their security on savings accounts and home ownership were suddenly penniless and unable to pay off their mortgages. Some nine million families lost their savings in the Depression, and by 1934 two-fifths of all homeowners in twenty cities had defaulted on their loans. The Depression created two kinds of poor Americans, The traditional poor, whose poverty began before the Depression, included tenant farmers, the elderly, single-parent families, and the disabled. The "new" poor included thousands of formerly middle-and working-class families suddenly impoverished by the loss of jobs, homes, and savings. Unemployment or low-paying part-time work caused financial uncertainty and lower standards of living for many families. The self-esteem of men eroded as they were unable to fulfill their roles as breadwinners for the families. Needy relatives stretched thin the resources of extended families. More on the Great Depression The collective contributions of women were critical during the 1930s. With Americans turning inward and relying on their families for survival, woman's role at the center of the family gained in significance. Overall, the Depression served to reinforce traditional gender roles. During the Depression the vast majority of American women were neither rich nor poor but somewhere in between. Most women were married, and their husbands remained employed, but they probably took pay cuts to keep their jobs. If a middle-class man lost his job, his family typically had enough resources to make do without turning to relief or losing their property. While life was not easy for these women, it was not all bleak either. The ingenious survival strategies of middle-class married women helped their families to make do. Gender Roles in 1930's Blacks also lost traditional means of support in the 1930s. Already poorly paid and badly treated, thousands of southern tenant farmers and sharecroppers were forced off the land as banks foreclosed on the owners of a third of all cotton fields. Always the first to be fired, blacks were especially discriminated against during the Depression. In one Chicago manufacturing plant African American employment went from a high in the 1920s of 18 percent to 10 percent by 1940. Unemployed white workers were willing to take unpleasant jobs they might previously have disdained, and employers were far more likely to hire even inexperienced whites rather than experienced blacks. More Info
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