To Keep Alive a Mockingbird
Teaching Harper Lee's 'To Kill a Mockingbird' by Roger Brooks
Boston Globe, February 20, 2016
In a tribute to Harper Lee and her iconic novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, Roger Brooks, who is president and CEO of the important educational organization "Facing History and Ourselves," presents a compelling commentary on why studying Lee's text continues to be so vital for young people and for our democracy. Brooks underscores especially the novel's power in our current historical context as issues of race, class, and gender continue to roil our society. For Brooks, novels like Lee's allow students to ask themselves about their own blind spots, the unwritten societal conventions that serve to deny justice and opportunity to so many members of our communities. To Kill a Mockingbird is a staple of so many English classes across our country, and this essay reminds us of why it has become a part of our canon and how important it is to give our students relevant access to the important and painful conversations of the present via the struggles of the past as reflected in art. Even more important, Scout and Atticus can serve as a model for how social change can happen.