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To Kill a Mockingbird: the First 50 Years

Fifty years ago today, July 11, 1960, was the publication date of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. I loved the book when I first read it in Junior High School. I know someone who reads it every year. It’s a true classic, and Ircel Harrison has shared some of his “testimony” of reading and wrestling with the book during his college days in the segregated South.

I did four years of college on a campus where the only African-Americans were custodians and service personnel. It was a time of racial unrest and outright conflict. As a young Christian who was struggling with how to reconcile what I had lived with what I was learning from my study of scripture and discussion with friends, the story of white people who were willing to take a stand in opposition to community standards was a revelation. I came to understand that discrimination based on the color of one’s skin was wrong in a court of law or in society at large.

Let’s hope the book stays in print for another fifty years—but not because we still need its lessons.

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