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To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
This classic story takes place in the 1930's in the South, where African-Americans were no longer enslaved, but neither were they free and equal.
Reminiscent of the story of the biblical Joseph, Tom Robinson (a black man) is accused of raping Mayella, a white woman. The truth was that she tried to seduce him, but when he spurned her advances and she was caught, she twisted the story in order to save face in a community that was deeply prejudiced. Tom is defended by the only unprejudiced man in the community. Can a black man get a fair trial before a jury of his peers - when his peers are the prejudiced members of his community?
This tragic classic sparked lots of lively discussion among my children. Warning: the book is full of the realistic language of that time and community (referring to African American as n*****). Though the rape scene is only presented as testimony in the trial, the language used is not overly graphic but is offensive (referring to Mayella as a "slut" and a "whore", etc.). The lessons taught in this book are powerful.
This is required reading in Exploring America by Ray Notgrass, in Tapestry of Grace, in Sonlight Curriculum, in Illuminations, and in My Father's World.
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