Panelists discuss civil rights, film
Issue date: 1/23/09 Section: Arts & Entertainment
Sponsored by the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design and the Office of Multicultural Programs, in honor of Martin Luther King Day, the 1962 film was screened in the Mitchell Auditorium at the Bossone Center, free to the public Jan. 18.
Following the movie, a panel of esteemed guests all hailing from Alabama, where Lee was born and currently resides, discussed the Civil Rights movement and Martin Luther King's involvement in the revolution, all while tying together history, Lee's novel, and our new President, Barack Obama.
I myself was not an avid fan of Lee's book or movie when it was a requirement in my school system's English curriculum.
But just as your parents told you your taste buds would develop to enjoy the likes of coffee and vegetables, Lee's story, it would appear, has grown on me in a similar fashion.
Panel member Dr. Reverend Thomas Lane Butts is a friend of Lee's and in preparation for Sunday's event, he was told to describe her narrative as, "a love story. Not romantic love, but a bigger love than that, [which] includes respect for the life and the dignity of all God's children."
The story of "To Kill a Mockingbird" is told from the perspective of Scout Finch, daughter of the highly respected lawyer Atticus and little sister of Jem.
Scout's young and na've point of view symbolizes innocence and blissful ignorance in a time of extreme racism and prejudice in the South, characterized by the court case of Tom Robinson, a black worker paralyzed in one arm said to have raped and assaulted an impoverished white woman.
Sheldon Hackney explained that in, Scottsboro, Ala., 1931, seven black men riding the back of trains were arrested for having supposedly raped a white woman.
"[The story of the Scottsboro trials] gives you … a picture [of what injustices then were like] because it's set in the 1930s, and … Harper Lee's [trial of Tom Robinson] was influenced by the Scottsboro trial, [as] she had been a young girl at that time," Hackney said.