Sunday, July 11, 2010

To Kill A Mockingbird turns 50

If you've read any books at all, you likely have been mesmerized by Harper Lee's only novel, "To Kill A Mockingbird." The classic turned 50 today, and Katie Couric took us through the pages of her favorite book -- and one of mine -- just now on CBS' Sunday Morning.

She returned us to Maycomb, Ala., Lee's Southern town steeped in segregation and disrupted by a white woman's charge of rape against a black man. Enter Atticus Finch, a fictitious lawyer made larger than life by both Lee's words and by Gregory Peck.

Still, the story is told through Scout, Finch's 6-year-old daughter. The images and words are those of my youth, even though we grew up in the Midwest instead of the deep South. "To Kill A Mockingbird" cut to the core of racism in every American town.

How far has America progressed? That's the question our guest columnist, Ericka Dow from the Manatee County Library, poses in her column today.

She writes:

How far from the atrocities of lynching, separate water fountains, and denying citizens the ability to vote or attend a good school? There are too many stories to tell that will answer these questions from either side of the spectrum.

The youngest generation has grown up in a culture more inclusive than ever before; many young people perceive the world as a place where a person’s identity is determined from what is within, not what society decides they are from without.

That seems far too idyllic for a world that seems to become more superficial by every online moment. Take a few minutes today and find a copy of Lee's novel. Revel in its wisdoms that decry prejudice and celebrate tolerance.

Even if you have to Google it.

1 comment:

Keith Martin said...

I enjoyed going back down memory lane here today. I am 47 yrs old and from the south (Texas to be exact) and yes I am a black man (Yes I said Black and not African American).

I remember having to read this book in high school and later I saw the movie.

It was a good book and movie as well. The memories however bring back both good and bad thoughts from my past.

It is true we have come a long way, but we still have a long road ahead of us that leads to equality.

Thanks for bringing some of the past to the present.

Keith Martin