To Kill a Mockingbird employs many different themes, but most of it centers around racism and learning to either live with it or to fight against it. Many of the best quotes might not explicitly focus around racism, but the same lesson can be learned from them. For example, Calpurnia teaches Scout to respect everyone no matter who they are in the following quote:
"Hush your mouth! Don't matter who they are, anybody sets foot in this house's yo' comp'ny, and don't you let me catch you remarkin' on their ways like you was so high and mighty!" (24).
Calpurnia defines company without color, so it can be inferred that this means black, white, or any race as well as social status.
Next, Atticus teaches Scout to respect everyone by considering where other people are coming from. This too can be applied to any race because many people in Maycomb do not have such wisdom because of racial prejudices:
"First of all, . . . if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view" (30).
Another good one from Atticus is when he is discussing the Tom Robinson case with his brother Jack:
"Why reasonable people go stark raving mad when anything involving a Negro comes up, is something I don't pretend to understand. . . I just hope that Jem and Scout come to me for their answers instead of listening to the town" (88).
In the above passage, Atticus is wondering why people need to be racist, but it is not explicitly expressed. Atticus usually doesn't say that people are the same no matter what their race, but he also demonstrates it by how he acts respectfully towards all and by honorably defending Tom Robinson in court.
Then Dill gets physically and emotionally sick when Mr. Gilmer treats Tom Robinson like nothing in court. Scout tells Dill that this is the way people talk to black people and Dill responds with the following:
"I don't care one speck. It ain't right, somehow it ain't right to do 'em that way. Hasn't anybody got any business talkin' like that--it just makes me sick" (199).
Thus, Dill knows deep down that it isn't right to treat people differently because of their race and it is manifested by him feeling sick about it.
Fortunately, Atticus gets to speak up for Tom Robinson during the closing remarks in the trial, and he gets to tell his friends and neighbors how life should be, as follows:
"But there is one way in this country in which all men are created equal--there is one human institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the stupid man the equal of an Einstein, and the ignorant man the equal of any college president. That institution, gentlemen, is the court. . . in this country our courts are the great levelers, and in our courts all men are created equal" (205).
Finally, Miss Maudie drives it all home with her riveting speech to Scout and Aunt Alexandra as they sit collecting themselves to rejoin a tea party of racist women spewing out racist comments. They've also just found out that Tom Robinson was shot and they must continue to play the upstanding roles they've been given in their community. Maudie says the following:
"The handful of people in this town who say that fair play is not marked White Only; the handful of people who say a fair trial is for everybody, not just us; the handful of people with enough humility to think, when they look at a Negro, there but for the Lord's kindness am I. . . The handful of people in this town with background, that's who they are" (236).