- Slides: 43
Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird Background Information & Historical Context
BEFORE The Roaring 20’s • The new concept of “credit” • People were buying: – – Automobiles Appliances Clothes Stocks • Fun times reigned – Dancing – Flappers – Drinking
What happened? • Credit system – People didn’t really have the money they were spending • Overproduction – Businesses were producing more than people could buy – When goods didn’t sell, 1) prices decreased, 2) companies made less money, 3) cut workers’ hours/jobs, 4) with so many unemployed, people purchased less • WWI – The U. S. was a major credit loaner to other nations in need – Many of these nations could not pay us back
The Great Depression: 1929 -1939 • October 1929 Stock market crash • Many didn’t realize the effect it would have • No money to Many were left broke and humiliated. replenish what was borrowed
• Herbert Hoover became president just eight months before the crash • Philosophy: We’ll make it! He believed the economy would recover “naturally. ” • What He Did: Nothing! • The poor were looking for help and a way out, but nothing was happening!
• Farmers were already feeling the effects – Prices of crops went down – Many farms foreclosed • People could not afford luxuries – Factories shut down – Businesses closed their doors • Banks could not pay out money • People could not pay their taxes – Schools shut down due to lack of funds • Many families became homeless and had to live in shanties
Many waited in unemployment lines hoping for a job.
People would wait in line for bread to bring to their families.
Some families were forced to relocate because they had no money.
“Hooverville” • Some families were forced to live in shanty towns – A grouping of shacks and tents in vacant lots • They were referred to as “Hooverville” because of President Hoover’s lack of help during the depression.
A drought in the South lead to dust storms that destroyed crops. “The Dust Bowl”
The South Was Buried • Crops turned to dust No food to be sent out • Homes buried • Fields blown away • South in state of emergency • Dust Bowl was the #1 weather crisis of the 20 th century
A Farm Foreclosure
Franklin Delano Roosevelt a. k. a. FDR • When he was inaugurated, unemployment had increased by 7 million. • Poor sections (like Harlem) had 50% of the population unemployed • Instated the “New Deal” – Used government’s authority to remedy the economic situation
The New Deal • FDR promised a New Deal for American People. • FDR felt it was the federal gov’ts duty to help American people during this time of need. • During his first 100 days of presidency, he produced a never-ending stream of bills to help relieve poverty, reduce unemployment, and speed economic recovery.
Major Historical Happenings… • Jim Crow Laws • Scottsboro Trials • Recovering from the Great Depression • Racial Injustice • Poor South
Jim Crow Laws • After the American Civil War, most states in the South passed anti-African American legislation. These became known as Jim Crow laws. • These laws included segregation in… – Schools -- Hospitals – Theaters -- Water fountains – Restaurants – Hotels – Public transportation – Some states forbid inter-racial marriages
Jim Crow Laws • “It shall be unlawful for a negro and white person to play together or in company with each other in any game of cards or dice, dominoes or checkers. ” • “Marriages are void when one party is a white person and the other is possessed of oneeighth or more negro, Japanese, or Chinese blood. ” • “Separate free schools shall be established for the education of children of African descent; and it shall be unlawful for any colored child to attend any white school, or any white child to attend a colored school. ”
Jim Crow Laws • “It shall be unlawful for any white prisoner to be handcuffed or otherwise chained or tied to a negro prisoner. ” • “No colored barber shall serve as a barber to white women or girls. ” • “Any person. . . presenting for public acceptance or general information, arguments or suggestions in favor of social equality or of intermarriage between whites and negroes, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars or imprisonment not exceeding six months or both fine and imprisonment in the discretion of the court. ” • “Any white woman who shall suffer or permit herself to be got with child by a negro or mulatto. . . shall be sentenced to the penitentiary for not less than eighteen months. ”
These laws were instituted in 1896 and were not abolished until 1965.
• 9 young African. American men (1320) accused of raping 2 white girls in 1931 • Immediately sentenced to death • Trials went on for nearly 15 years before all the men were dismissed
• Started on a train bound for Memphis • Several white men boarded and picked a fight with the black men • Whites were forced off train by the 12 black men. The white men reported to authorities that the black men had raped two white girls on the train • They were immediately arrested and tried in front of an all-white jury.
The trials caused a huge uproar amongst the black community!
Emmett Till Mrs. Bryant
Harper Lee • Born in Monroeville, Alabama on April 28, 1926 • The youngest of four children • Self-confessed tomboy and enjoyed reading and writing at a very young age • Her father was a lawyer who served on the Alabama State Legislature from 1926 -1938 • Spent one year studying law but never earned her law degree because her true passion was writing
Harper Lee, the Acclaimed Writer • 1957 – submitted manuscript for her novel; was urged to rewrite it • Spent over two years reworking it • 1960 – To Kill a Mockingbird (her only novel) was published • To Kill a Mockingbird was an immediate best seller • Won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961
• 1962 --the novel was turned into a film starring Gregory Peck • It received a humanitarian award and several Academy Award nominations