-1Racist, ignorant, lying southern folks convicted a black man for rape even though he did not do it… welcome to the early 1900’s. The events of the Scottsboro Boys, Emmett Till, Medgar Evers and many racially motivated murders and trials, gave Harper Lee the background for her novel. Just like in the Scottsboro Boys there was a man that was wrongly accused even though the “victim” said that the man never raped her and while trying to escape from prison was killed.
In the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, set in the South during the late 1930’s and early 1940’s, Harper Lee provides an example of the need for a civil rights movement. Atticus, a white lawyer defending a black man, does not think that they can win the trial because there was no way you were going to get an all white jury to not convict a black man. Atticus even told his two kids, Jem and Scout that there was no way they would win the trial but there was no reason they couldn’t try to win. ‘Atticus, are we going to win it? ’ ‘No, honey. ’ ‘then why-’ ‘simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win,’ (p. 76)”. In the end, Tom Robinson (the black man Atticus is defending) ended up losing the case because a white man’s word is believed over black man. Non trustworthy Ewells lied to the court for attention. The court ended up believing their word simply because they were white and the accused man was black.
Its defiantly not the first time this has happened, take the Scottsboro boys for instance two white women lied to get out of trouble and the boys got in trouble even though they did not rape the ladies. Mayella could not get her story straight on how Tom had raped, beaten and chocked her and was making the story up on the spot. ( ‘I ducked and it- it glanced, That‘s what it did. I ducked and it glanced off‘ Mayella had finally seen the light. ’ you’re becoming suddenly clear on this point. A while ago you couldn‘t remember too well, could you? ’) (P. 187).
The Ewells aren’t only putting trouble on Tom Robinson but also on Jem and Scout too. Jem and Scout go through people making fun of them and saying bad stuff about their family just because their dad, Atticus is white and defending a black man. Atticus told Scout and Jem that fighting gets them no where and that if he ever hears of them fighting again he will “wear them out” does that stop her? no. When they were in the school yard, Cecil Jacobs said Scouts daddy defends niggers to her face. (Cecil Jacobs made me forget. He had announced in the schoolyard the day before that Scout Finch’s daddy defended niggers.
I denied it, but I told Jem. ) (P. 74). Racial comments like this is only the beginng of hard times, Segregation which takes place in the South during these times is more severe. Segregation got so bad during the mid 1900’s that colored people couldn’t be buried in the same cemetery, drink at the same drinking fountain, and walk on the same sidewalk as whites. It wasn’t just the whites that hated the blacks, the blacks also hated the whites. In the book, Jem and Scout visit an all black church, when they get there everyone was staring at them and thinking why are there white folks here. I agreed: they did not want us here. I sensed, rather than saw, that we were being advanced upon. They seemed to be drawing closer to us, but when I looked up at Calpurnia there was amusement in her eyes. When I looked down the pathway again, Lula was gone. In her place was a solid mass of colored people. (P. 119). But not all people wanted them gone… Reverend Sykes actually welcomed them to their congregation during the announcements. Yes, times like this in the South is true. Harper Lee did get her idea for her book by racially motivated murders and trials.