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Reverend Sykes appears in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird the day Calpurnia takes Scout and Jem to the Sunday service, at the trial of Tom Robinson, and assisting Helen Robinson, Tom Robinson's widow. African-American communities in the South tended to be very close knit, and the church and church officials tended to be the informal leaders. This makes sense when one considers that African Americans weren't allowed to vote, much less hold any sort of public office; the ministers were really the only source of leadership the African-American community had to look to. As church officials were the de facto leaders of the community, the church itself was the social fabric of the community, since blacks weren't allowed into, or were strictly segregated in public venues.
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