Harper Lees To Kill a Mockingbird Background Information

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Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird Background Information & Historical Context

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird Background Information & Historical Context

BEFORE The Roaring 20’s • The new concept of “credit” • People were buying:

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

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

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:

• 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

• 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.

Many waited in unemployment lines hoping for a job.

People would wait in line for bread to bring to their families.

People would wait in line for bread to bring to their families.

Some families were forced to relocate because they had no money.

Some families were forced to relocate because they had no money.

“Hooverville” • Some families were forced to live in shanty towns – A grouping

“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

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

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

A Farm Foreclosure

Franklin Delano Roosevelt a. k. a. FDR • When he was inaugurated, unemployment had

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

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

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

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

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

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.

These laws were instituted in 1896 and were not abolished until 1965.

 • 9 young African. American men (1320) accused of raping 2 white girls

• 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

• 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!

The trials caused a huge uproar amongst the black community!

Emmett Till Mrs. Bryant

Emmett Till Mrs. Bryant

Harper Lee • Born in Monroeville, Alabama on April 28, 1926 • The youngest

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

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 •

• 1962 --the novel was turned into a film starring Gregory Peck • It received a humanitarian award and several Academy Award nominations