Friday, June 29, 2012

In the Tradition of To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee
Sunny Nash
"In the tradition of To Kill a Mockingbird, but more stirring because of its real-life perspective, she (Nash) tells her story of a time before the Civil Rights Movement with immediacy and poignancy."

Two women with very different backgrounds, one black and one white, Sunny Nash and Harper Lee, grew up in different decades in the United States of America, and both experienced Jim Crows laws that dictated the behavior of Americans in their everyday lives before Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King   headed the journey from Jim Crow and led the nation into the Civil Rights Movement. 

However, they both write a message of understanding of race relations as those issues related to the times of their lives and families and some that still apply in today's world of computers and social media. Sunny Nash and Harper Lee tell their stories from their own perspectives.

Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning autobiographical novel is about Atticus Fincha white southern attorney, whose defense of a black man accused of raping a white woman during the era of Jim Crow laws when such accusations were common in the United States. The era of Jim Crow laws spanned roughly from about 1867 at the end of Reconstruction after the Civil War until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, when Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

To Kill a Mockingbird, told through the voice of Scout, Atticus' young daughter, recalls a time in the recent past when racism and morals were intertwined in such a way that truth was not recognizable. At that time, the emphasis was on the protection of white womanhood against the perceived dangers that black men posed. In reality, the reverse was true. African American women were the real victims in most instances with rape and lynching, which was the primary method used to control the economic status of many black communities around the nation. 

Before Rosa Parks led the Montgomery Bus Boycott, she was an expert investigator in cases of rape and lynching of black women in Jim Crow Alabama. Parks was also responsible for changes in black Hollywood and the portrayals of black women in the movies and on television, which had been restricted to servants to white families, demonstrated in the a recent movie, The Help. In fact, the Finch family in To Kill a Mockingbird had a house servant, Calpurnia, whose role was minimal, except for housekeeping and nanny duties.

Bigmama Didn't Shop  at Woolworth's   by Sunny Nash´╗┐
Bigmama Didn't Shop 
at Woolworth's  
by Sunny Nash
Harper Lee's account of the life and experiences of a little girl in To Kill A Mockingbird is fictional but portrays real life as the people of her town lived it in the Deep South in the 1930s when the nation was filled with children of the Great Depression. To make life in America worse, the lives of many families were being complicated by migrations west to avoid the perils of poverty brought on by the Dust Bowl

My account of the life and experiences of a little girl in Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's is nonfiction and portrays my own real life and the lives the people who populated my world. When I was growing up, there was Hollywood and there was black Hollywood and they seldom intersected. In the case of To Kill A Mockingbird, however, the two worlds collided on the page and the screen in a way that affected me deeply for the rest of my life.

Harper Lee struck a nerve in mid-century America with her story that was set in the Jim Crow 1930s Deep South, a period being played out during my childhood when Rosa Parks was leading the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955-56. Those days were lingering as I entered adulthood and prepared to make my own way in the world. Lee's book came into my possession when it was new. My mother, who bought books on a regular basis, bought the book for my birthday. When the movie came out, my mother took me to see it. Then we discussed the subject in detail. That was the beginning of my interest on writing about race relations in America, eventually leading to my own book, Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's.

"Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."
Buy Bigmama Didn't Shop at Woolworth's  by Sunny Nash

Bigmama Didn't Shop
At Woolworth's
by Sunny Nash

Sunny Nash is the author of Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's (Texas A&M University Press), about life with her part-Comanche grandmother before the Civil Rights Movement ended Jim Crow laws. Nash’s book is recognized by the Association of American University Presses as essential for understanding U.S. race relations; listed in the Bibliographic Guide to Black Studies by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York; and recommended for Native American collections by the Miami-Dade Public Library System in Florida.  

Sunny Nash--author, producer, photographer and leading writer on U.S. race relations in--writes books, blogs, articles and reviews, and produces media and images on U.S. history and contemporary American topics, ranging from Jim Crow laws to social media networking, Nash uses her book to write articles and blogs on race relations in America through topics relating to her life--from music, film, early radio and television, entertainment, social media, Internet technology, publishing, journalism, sports, education, employment, the military, fashion, performing arts, literature, women's issues, adolescence and childhood, equal rights, social and political movements--past and present—to today's post-racism. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

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  1. To be sure, To Kill a Mockingbird moved the debate on and awakened a lot of consciences but the struggle is far from over.
    For your book to be compared to such a landmark film is indicative of a great achievement (to me). This film also left it's mark on me. Brilliant.

    1. Thank you. I was honored by the comparison.


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