Set in the 1930's, in what ways does To Kill a Mockingbird reflect on the 1960’s civil rights movement’s perspective on racial issues? 

Expert Answers
e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The issue of equal treatment under the law and the issues of physical, ideological and legal segregation are each dealt with in this novel and are each part of the 1960s civil rights movement. 

The trial of Tom Robinson is a clear example of social injustice resulting from racial policy and politics as they exist both in the public mind and in the workings of the legal system. Robinson is wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death. 

During his testimony, he relates that he felt sorry for the girl. This remark affronts the white men in the jury, who see it as evidence that he is overreaching his social station. Although he is clearly proven innocent, the all-white jury convicts him of rape, a crime punishable by death.

This injustice is discussed as being culturally embedded in the society of Maycomb and surprises no one when it is carried out, with the exception of children. 

The civil rights movement recognized this type of injustice as being widespread under Jim Crow law, acknowledging and publicizing unfair treatment and unequal protection under the U.S. Constitution, which Jim Crow laws precipitated. 

Myriad other prejudicial and discriminatory practices were committed as well, from routine denial of the right to a fair trial to outright murder...

In Harper Lee's novel, the children make waves by attending an African American church and later sitting in the African American section of the courthouse. Innocently, the children cross a social/cultural line (as defined by certain elements of Maycomb), offering further examples of the town's policies of segregation and expressing in the narrative an antipathy for these policies.

The civil rights movement worked to overturn and remove policies of segregation, institutional inequality, and unfair treatment of minorities. 

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Throughout the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee portrays life in the Deep South during the 1930s. At this time, existing Jim Crow laws segregated and marginalized African Americans. Throughout the story, Lee depicts the segregated lives of African Americans, especially during Jem and Scout's visit to First Purchase African M.E., as well as the separate sections inside Maycomb's courthouse. Lee also reveals the pervasive racism in the Deep South through the actions and words of Maycomb's white population. Throughout the novel, African Americans live in poverty, live in a setting in which they are routinely deprived sufficient education, and fear the consequences of upsetting their white neighbors. The harmful results of Jim Crow laws are presented by the racial injustice exemplified during Tom Robinson's wrongful conviction.

During the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, African Americans fought to end racial segregation and discrimination. Organized groups staged boycotts, sit-ins, and protests to challenge the racist Jim Crow laws of the Deep South. African Americans confronted the unlawful treatment and social discrimination by demanding voting rights and ending segregation. The same oppressive system that found Tom Robinson guilty simply because he was black was being challenged during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. The Civil Rights Movement sought to eliminate racial discrimination and the marginalization of African Americans throughout the country. Many of the issues affecting black characters throughout the novel were being challenged during the Civil Rights Movement.

kelsey-15- | Student

Tom Robinson is treated unfairly because he is black. In the court house the blacks and whites sit in different areas

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question