To Kill A Mockingbird vivian barrett

Racism Through History, the Present, and To Kill a Mockingbird

Racism and peace are not words that are commonly used together. This is because racism is usually shown with violence. In this essay I will reference three texts. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is a novel highlighting a girl, Scout, in a racist, southern town and events that occur there. From Discovering U.S. History, the article, Ku Klux Klan and Reconstruction, 1866-1877 is an article that describes the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and events they caused. The article, Chicago Officer Who Shot Teen and Bystander Will Not Be Charged by Mitch Smith and Monica Davey is an article that describes an instance of police brutality with a white police officer and a black man, where the police is let off without any consequences.

Black Lives Matter Protest

In both To Kill A Mockingbird and Ku Klux Klan and Reconstruction, 1866-1877 whites being racist and violent towards blacks is shown. During the time leading up to the trial in To Kill A Mockingbird, Tom Robinson is visited at the jailhouse by a group of white men. Atticus, who was already at the jailhouse trying to console Tom, attempts to get the group to go home. “‘You know what we want,’ another man said. ‘Get aside from the door Mr. Finch.’” (Lee, 172). The group of men wanted to attack Tom, because he is black. They were going to express their racism through violence. This pattern is shown in history as well, one main example being the KKK. “Schools for black children and adults were burned and teachers were whipped.” (Ku Klux Klan and Reconstruction, 1866-1877). The KKK went after black groups and individuals because of the color of their skin. They expressed their racism with violent acts.

The Ku Klux Klan at a Burning Their Group Performed

Police brutality is a current epidemic, and To Kill A Mockingbird shows it as well. In To Kill A Mockingbird Tom Robinson is sent to jail after the trial, and eventually attempts to escape. “They [the police] shot him [Tom]. … Seventeen bullet holes in him.” (Lee, 268). As Tom tried to escape, the guards in the jail shot warning shots to try and get him to stop. After he didn’t, they shot him. In this case the police had a reason to shoot at Tom, but seventeen shots is a lot just to get someone to stop. In current times, there are a lot of instances where the police don’t have a valid reason to shoot the people they do. “Laquan McDonald, a black teenager, was shot 16 times by a white police officer.” (Chicago Officer Who Shot Teen and Bystander Will Not Be Charged). An innocent teenager was shot an unnecessary amount of time because his skin color makes him ‘threatening’. Both current events and events in To Kill A Mockingbird show how people express their racist thoughts with violence.

Police Using Violence on a Black Man

Throughout history and the present it is shown that people express racism with violence. Many examples of that are given in the book To Kill A Mockingbird. This is something that will probably always be true and that going into the future, people will continue to act racist through violent acts.

Atticus Finch and Tom Robinson at the Trial in the To Kill A Mockingbird Movie

Works Cited

"Ku Klux Klan and Reconstruction, 1866-1877." DISCovering U.S. History, Gale, 2003. Research in Context,

Lee, Harper C. To Kill a Mockingbird. New York, Harper, 1988.

Smith, Mitch, and Monica Davey. "Chicago Officer Who Shot Teenager and Bystander Will Not Be Charged." The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 Feb. 2017. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.


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