Red Clay Readers podcast: ' Mockingbird' is Lee's best, but ' Watchman' provokes thought As we prepared to record this week's Red Clay Readers podcast, my friend and colleague John Hammontree said something that shocked me: He might prefer "Go Set A Watchman" to "To Kill A Mockingbird." John is the first person I've... What made Lee's words so meaningful was not just their powerful literary excellence, but their poignant portrayal of a dual system of justice as applied to the "negro." Further, the fact that the book was penned by a daughter of the South raised up in the privileged white class of a segregated society is significant in itself.
It openly exposed what everyone knew, but no one spoke of - that justice and fairness and its application had a direct correlation to the color of one's skin.
It was my first experience with real hatred and cruelty toward African-Americans. of an Alabama-based bookstore chain with our roots firmly planted in the South for close to 100 years, I have robust relationship with "To Kill A Mockingbird" as literature, as well as commerce.
In 1960, I was 13 years old and had never witnessed outright cruelty to an African-American. I first read Harper Lee's masterpiece as a middle school student in Gadsden in the late '60s.
She is a freelance documentary filmmaker and has a master's degree in history from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
MARIAM JALLOHI love "To Kill a Mockingbird" because it was the first book I read when I arrived in the United States of America.It was assigned reading during my freshman year at Mandarin High School in Jacksonville, Fla., and the book stuck in my mind because it was set in my birth state and written by an Alabamian.Like so many other Alabama-born writers-to-be, I admired Harper Lee upon my first reading of her seminal work. This was only another addition to an already-full bookcase of tomes I loved.I'm fortunate that I grew up in an area where different races mixed without incident.My high school was mostly white, but a bird's-eye view of the courtyard showed black, white, Asian and Hispanic teens often mingling with people who didn't look just like the other.The simplicity of setting, the hero, the villain, the narrator and good vs. As a child you understand it; as a teenager you learn from it; and as an adult you are faced with its struggles.While I might not be a lawyer standing up for an innocent man whose fate is determined by the color of his skin, more than 50 years after its conception, the plight and struggle "To Kill a Mockingbird" deals with remain far too real for our community on a state and national level.It's a theme that sharpens each time I return to the text, and it has resonated even more deeply since I returned to Alabama as an adult.The state has seen great change since the book's publication 55 years ago this month, but the effects of so many social ills linger.I met Harper Lee 10 years ago, and I will never forget it. I listen to the book on tape (narrated by the exquisite Sissy Spacek) in my car all the time.I might also have a mockingbird tattoo that my mom would probably say is "overboard."It would be cliche for me to say "To Kill a Mockingbird" changed my life, so I will say "To Kill a Mockingbird" opened my eyes before I knew they were closed, and thank goodness.