some historical background to kill a mockingbird by harper lee n.
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Some Historical Background To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Jim Crow Laws (“Separate but Equal”). Plessy v. Ferguson 1896 The Plessy decision set the precedent that "separate" facilities for blacks and whites were constitutional as long as they were "equal.".

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jim crow laws separate but equal
Jim Crow Laws (“Separate but Equal”)
  • Plessy v. Ferguson 1896
  • The Plessy decision set the precedent that "separate" facilities for blacks and whites were constitutional as long as they were "equal."
tulsa race riot oklahoma 1921
Tulsa Race Riot, Oklahoma, 1921
  • Man falsely accused of raping a white woman creates a backlash and race riot in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
  • 26 blacks and 10 whites are killed
rosewood massacre florida 1923
Rosewood Massacre, Florida, 1923
  • Man falsely accused of raping a white woman results in a race riot, completely destroying the community of Rosewood
  • 8 blacks and 2 whites die
scottsboro boys alabama 1931
Scottsboro Boys, Alabama, 1931

In the Scottsboro trial, nine black boys were accused of the rape of two white girls. The court of Alabama sentenced the boys to death. Eventually all but two were paroled, but their trials and mistrials spanned years with the boys serving in prison and losing their youth to incarceration.

emmett till mississippi 1955
Emmett Till, Mississippi, 1955
  • 14 year old who allegedly winked at a white woman at a local store and was dragged out of his great uncle’s home in the middle of the night, beaten, shot and weighted to the bottom of the Tallahatchie River
  • Till’s mother insisted on an open casket to show the injustice to all the world
jack johnson boxer 1900 1910 s
Jack Johnson, Boxer 1900-1910’s
  • The first black man to hold the heavyweight title
  • First trash talker among athletes
  • Caused white boxing fans to look for a “Great White Hope”—a white boxer who could beat him
  • Race riots ensued all over the country July 4, 1910, after beating “Great White Hope” Jim Jeffries

Johnson and Wife

pop culture
Pop Culture
  • African Americans are non-existent in film or television unless playing a stereotypical role (Ex: In 1939, Hattie McDaniel won the first Oscar given to an African-American actor in American film. Her role—Mammy, a slave on a plantation.)
  • African Americans are performing jazz and tap in a hot all-white clubs but are not allowed to come into the clubs unless performing. They have clubs like the Apollo, but the money is in the white clubs.
  • Music records are sold but black artists are generally getting ripped off by the producers.
american school system
American School System
  • Schools are segregated in many southern towns
  • Brown v. Board of Education did not desegregate schools until 1954
american justice system
American Justice System

Very simply put:

  • All white jury, judge and lawyers
  • All male jury, judge and lawyers
  • Blind justice is not color blind or gender blind until the civil rights and women’s movements of the 1960’s
harper lee
Harper Lee
  • Published To Kill a Mockingbird in 1960 (the novel is set in the 1940’s)
  • Born in Monroeville, Alabama, and lives there today
  • Refuses interviews and never wrote another novel
  • As we read, think about how civil rights history influenced Lee’s novel and her thinking
to kill a mockingbird today
To Kill a Mockingbird Today


Published: Tuesday, August 24, 2010 at 3:00 a.m.

At the Bunch of Grapes bookstore on Martha's Vineyard, the sojourning President Barack Obama bought a few books, including “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. It was for his daughter, but it may have also conjured a sweet memory for the beleaguered president. Only a couple of years ago, when he was campaigning, Obama inspired comparisons with the noble lawyer Atticus Finch.

  • 1. To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee
  • 2. Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
  • 3. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - C.S Lewis
  • 4. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
  • 5. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
  • 6. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
  • 7. Animal Farm - George Orwell
  • 8. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
  • 9. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - JK Rowling
  • 10. Lord of the Flies - William Golding

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