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A Time to Kill: the Story of Struggle from Racism

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A Time to Kill demonstrates how much racism, inequality, and segregation was going on in the early to mid 1960’s. The movie shows how African Americans were divided from white people in every circumstance. Inequality was very common for African Americans, and they were shut off from the rest of the public because of the color of their skin. Racism has always been a major conflict and it still remains with us in our society today. A Time to Kill really unfolds how hard it was for people of different races to get along.

In the movie, A Time to Kill, a ten year old black girl is raped and almost murdered by two southern, racist white men. The only reason she was attacked and near death was because the two men were drunk and they loathed different races other than their own. In retaliation to this tragic event, the young black girl’s father, Carl Lee Hailey, kills the two white men out of deep anger. He is then put on trial for murdering the two men. Normally a black man had no chance in winning such a case; however, his lawyer, Jake Brigance, who was white, searched for justice. Jake Brigance completely understood how Carl Lee Hailey must have felt. As the movie proceeds, justice is barely found and Carl Lee Hailey is set free. Many people who were involved in the trial and who were on Jake Brigance and Carl Lee Hailey’s team were put in harm’s way. Jake Brigance’s family, work partner and friends were threatened and sometimes attacked by the KKK. Jake Brigance almost lost his wife, daughter, and friends because they did not understand his sympathy for Carl Lee Hailey. Jake Brigance stood up for what he believed in and justice prevailed. (A Time to Kill) Even though it can be extremely difficult to fight for what’s right, it is always necessary.

Racism has always been a major issue and it will remain a constant barrier for some people. During the mid 1800’s, slavery was at its peak and there were about 385,000 slave owners (wikipedia.org). Fears of African American’s freedom were much greater in the South than the North. Although African Americans were desperately fighting for their rights, discrimination proceeded with the Jim Crow Laws. Jim Crow Laws mandated segregation in all public facilities. Blacks were not allowed to eat, drink, or use the restroom where white people did. The black people felt so excluded from the public. If a black man were to sit down next to a white man and eat a sandwich he would be escorted out and most likely thrown in jail.

Moreover, blacks were not allowed to sit in the front of transit buses. A black person would have to pay their fee to the bus driver, deport the bus, and reenter from the back door. Sometimes, the bus would drive off when the paid passenger was about to step back onto the bus (Time.com). The Jim Crow Laws lasted from 1876-1965 (The History of Jim Crow) Eventually, African Americans won their Civil Rights in 1964 and more people started to move on and not be so discriminatory (History of Jim Crow). It is still ridiculous that racism and segregation is still popular in certain areas of the United States, especially in the South. A Time to Kill is set in a small town in Mississippi. Racism is probably still very popular in the South because that is where slave owners and plantations were located. People’s attitudes toward other races differ depending on where he or she lives.

Rosa Parks is a great example of how she stood up for what she believed in and she will be remembered forever. In December 1955, Rosa Parks was leaving a busy day at work; she boarded a transit bus for home and sat in the first seat she saw. A white passenger ordered her to give up her seat, but Rosa Parks refused. Her quiet, courageous act changed America and American’s views forever. In a radio interview, Rosa Parks said “I would have to know for once and for all what rights I had as a human being and a citizen” (Wikipedia.org). Parks was extremely tired of giving in to people she did not owe anything to. She knew deep down in her heart that she had every right to sit wherever she wanted to on the bus. As a result, she was arrested and this caused uproar with the black people in Montgomery, Alabama (time.com). A bus boycott was deliberated which lasted 381 days. Rosa Parks became a symbol for justice and everyone around the United States looked up to her. She later became Deaconess in the AME church in Detroit in 1964 and in 2000 she had the privilege to meet with Pope John-Paul III. During her meeting with the Pope, she read a quote to him asking for racial healing (RosaParks.org). She will always be remembered for her profound act. Rosa Parks is known as the “mother of modern day civil rights movement” (RosaParks.org).

The KKK is a very radical, racist group who use violence and threats against black people or sympathetic white people. The KKK first emerged in Tennessee in May 1886 (SpartacusEducational). From then on the KKK grew into the biggest racial bigots in the United States. The KKK is still somewhat around today and their biggest target is African Americans. During the 1950’s through the early 1960’s the KKK would terrorize the black community by lynching. Lynching is an illegal method used by mobs to kill a person. The KKK would often lynch black people by hanging them from trees.

This act was so wicked and it shocked many people in America. Any whites who expressed their feelings about the suffering of blacks would also be attacked and sometimes killed. This was especially hard for black people to accept that there was a group of white racists who organized meetings just to harm African Americans. Furthermore, innocent white people who also felt this was immoral couldn’t publically come out and say something because they would be attacked next. The KKK definitely put a great fear in people all over the United States. In today’s society, racists are still everywhere and hate-related incidents have been happening more often ever since our first African American president arrived to office. Cross burnings to Obama figures hanging from nooses have been reported this year (smh.com.au). Unfortunately, our world will always be filled with hate and violence, because we humans can’t accept people for who they are.

In conclusion, the movie A Time to Kill really proved how racism affected African American’s lives so deeply. They have gone through so much discrimination and still managed to become successful. The Civil Rights Movement proved to white people that black people were not going to stop fighting until they’ve won. However, there still is plenty of racism going on today and discrimination has started targeting other groups. In addition, racism is not only a problem in the United States. Some countries have a greater amount of problems to deal with today. Americans still try to keep their heads held high and fight for justice. Justice is difficult to find in certain situations, but it always prevails. Americans should be very lucky to live in the United States, because we can stand up for what we believe in.

Works Cited

“America unmasked: the KKK of 2009.” The Sydney Morning Herald. 28 Feb. 2009. Web. Davis, Ronald L.F. “From Terror to Triumph: Historical Overview.” The History of Jim Crow. New York Life. Web. 9 Nov. 2009. Dove, Rita. “Rosa Parks.” Time100. Web. 9 Nov. 2009.

“Rosa Louise Parks Biography.” Rosa and Raymond Parks. Institute for Self Development. Web. 9 Nov. 20009. A Time to Kill

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