Building the Context for To Kill a Mockingbird Franklin D. Roosevelt is elected President of the United States in November 1932. Roosevelt initiates a widespread social welfare strategy called the "New Deal" to combat the economic and social devastation of the Great Depression. Jim Crow was the name of the racial caste system which operated primarily, but not exclusively in southern and border states, between 1877 and the mid-1960s. Jim Crow was not only a series of rigid anti-Black laws. It was a way of life. Under Jim Crow, African Americans were relegated to the status of second class citizens. Christian ministers and theologians taught that White people were the Chosen people, Black people were cursed to be servants, and God supported racial segregation. Craniologists, eugenicists, phrenologists, and Social Darwinists, at every educational level, buttressed the belief that Blacks were innately intellectually and culturally inferior to Whites. Newspaper and magazine writers routinely referred to Blacks as niggers, coons, and darkies; and worse, their articles reinforced anti-Black stereotypes. Even children's games portrayed Blacks as inferior beings . All major societal institutions reflected and supported the oppression of Blacks. The Jim Crow system was undergirded by the following beliefs or rationalizations: Whites were superior to Blacks in all important ways, including but not limited to intelligence, morality, and civilized behavior. White people were the Chosen people, Black people were cursed to be servants, and God supported racial segregation. Sexual relations between Blacks and Whites would produce a mongrel race which would destroy America; Treating Blacks as equals would encourage interracial sexual unions; If necessary, violence must be used to keep Blacks at the bottom of the racial hierarchy. The following Jim Crow etiquette norms show how inclusive and pervasive these norms were: A Black male could not offer his hand (to shake hands) with a White male because it implied being socially equal. Obviously, a Black male could not offer his hand or any other part of his body to a White woman, because he risked being accused of rape. Blacks were not allowed to show public affection toward one another in public, especially kissing, because it offended Whites. Whites did not use courtesy titles of respect when referring to Blacks, for example, Mr., Mrs., Miss., Sir, or Ma'am. Instead, Blacks were called by their first names. Blacks had to use courtesy titles when referring to Whites, and were not allowed to call them by their first names. Stetson Kennedy, the author of Jim Crow Guide, offered these simple rules that Blacks were supposed to observe in conversing with Whites: 1. Never assert or even intimate that a White person is lying. 2. Never impute dishonorable intentions to a White person. 3. Never suggest that a White person is from an inferior class. 4. Never lay claim to, or overly demonstrate, superior knowledge or intelligence. 5. Never curse a White person. 6. Never laugh derisively at a White person. 7. Never comment upon the appearance of a White female. ENTERTAINMENT Alabama: It shall be unlawful to conduct a restaurant or other place for the serving of food in the city, at which white and colored people are served in the same room, unless such white and colored persons are effectually separated by a solid partition extending from the floor upward to a distance of seven feet or higher, and unless a separate entrance from the street is provided. Alabama: It shall be unlawful for a negro and white person to play together or in company with each other at any game of pool or billiards. Alabama: Every employer of white or negro males shall provide for such white or negro males reasonably accessible and separate toilet facilities. Georgia: All persons licensed to conduct a restaurant, shall serve either white people exclusively or colored people exclusively and shall not sell to the two races within the same room or under the same license. Georgia: It shall be unlawful for any amateur white baseball team to play on any vacant lot or baseball diamond within two blocks of a playground devoted to the Negro race, and it shall be unlawful for any amateur colored baseball team to play baseball within two blocks of any playground devoted to the white race. Georgia: All persons licensed to conduct the business of selling beer or wine...shall serve either white people exclusively or colored people exclusively and shall not sell to the two races within the same room at any time. Louisiana: All circuses, shows, and tent exhibitions, to which the attendance of more than one race is invited shall provide not less than two ticket offices and not less than two entrances. Virginia: Any public hall, theatre, opera house, motion picture show or place of public entertainment which is attended by both white and colored persons shall separate the white race and the colored race. The New York Stock Exchange just after the crash of 1929 Source: http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/depression/photoessay.htm Unemployed men vying for jobs at an Employment Bureau in Los Angeles Source: http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/depression/photoessay.htm FDR’s Inaugural Address (March 4, 1933) Source:http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/fdrfirstinaugural.html Daily lineup outside State Employment Office Memphis, Tennessee, 1938 Photographer: Dorothea Lange Source: http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/depression/photoessay.htm Cabins and outbuildings on a former plantation Alabama, 1937 Photographer: Arthur Rothstein Source: http://rs6.loc.gov/ammem/fsahtml/fachap05.html Sharecropper’s Porch, Alabama, 1936 Source: http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/depression/photoessay.htm Sharecropping (definition) System in which landowners allow workers to use their land for farming in return for a portion of the crops that the sharecropper produces. Sharecropper family: Sunday on the porch Arkansas, 1935 Photographer: Ben Shahn Source: http://rs6.loc.gov/pnp/fsa/8a16000/8a16100/8a16176r.jpg Cotton pickers on a plantation in Arkansas October 1935 Photographer: Ben Shahn Source: http://rs6.loc.gov/ammem/fsahtml/fachap01.html Shack in Elm Grove, Oklahoma, 1936 Photographer: Dorothea Lange Source: http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/depression/photoessay.htm Street in Greensboro, Alabama Summer 1936 Photographer: Walker Evans Source: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?fsaall:1:./temp/~ammem_t6EC:: Children leaving the schoolhouse Gee’s Bend, Albama, 1937 Photographer: Arthur Rothstein Source: http://rs6.loc.gov/ammem/fsahtml/fachap05.html Leland, Mississipi, 1937 Photographer: Dorothea Lange Source: http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/depression/photoessay.htm Greyhound Bus Station Memphis, Tennessee, 1943 Source: http://afroamhistory.about.com/od/jimcrowlaw1/ig/Racial-Segregation-Signs/Waiting-Room--Tennessee.htm “Colored” Drinking Fountain North Carolina, April 1938 Photographer: John Vachon Source: http://afroamhistory.about.com/od/jimcrowlaw1/ig/Racial-Segregation-Signs/Courthouse-Drinking-Fountain.htm Ku Klux Klan parade in Washington, D.C., 1926 The Scottsboro Trials Ruby Bates testifying Victoria Price testifying Source: http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/FTrials/scottsboro/SB_images The Scottsboro boys with defense attorney Sam Liebowitz in jail (March, 1933) Source: http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/FTrials/scottsboro/Scotts.jpg Crowd outside Scottsboro courthouse, 1931 http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/FTrials/scottsboro/SB_CROWD.jpg Postcard from 1930s Mobile, Alabama Homework: Create a postcard and write to someone back home in Los Altos (year: 2013) as if you time-traveled back to Mobile, Alabama (1930s-- the actual town on which Harper Lee based the fictional Maycomb, in To Kill A Mockingbird.) Be sure to create an image, or select an image from the internet that provides a fitting representation of the south in the 1930s. This should be based on your research activity and the information from class today. For the writing portion, be sure to write as if you are a high school student from the year 2013 who is visiting the 1930s but please treat this assignment with the seriousness it deserves.