“Our Mockingbird” Video Review By: Maria Pace

The video documentary, Our Mockingbird, highlighted and exposed the struggles of the 1960s south, the book To Kill a Mockingbird, and how those same type of struggles still exist in our lives today. The video begins with the lives of teenagers that attend two different high schools, one all white, and one all black. The two schools have one goal: put on a performance that showcases the book, To Kill a Mockingbird. The video proceeds to follow the journey of these students throughout the video, and it vividly and realistically describes the racial tensions they were able to overcome. The video also talks about a main theme in To Kill a Mockingbird, which was racial tensions in the south. The film touches on various marches, and events in history that impact our lives today due to their historical significance. For example, when four black children were killed after the march of Washington by being blow up in 16th Street Baptist church, it shook Alabama, the United States and the world. People’s hearts ached with the thought of how someone could simply kill children in a church and then walk away like it’s no big deal. But obviously, it is a big deal. People were being shot in the streets because they merely wanted to protest their basic rights as American citizens. This was a racial church killing. The rights of black Americans were exercised when children would march in the street, when Martin Luther King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech, when schools fought to end segregation, when black men were accused of the rape of white women like Tom Robinson. It was a battle, and through the lives of the high school students in Alabama, and the award-winning book, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, a story of racism in American history and our lives today is told through the film, Our Mockingbird.
What really brought, I, as the audience, into the film, was the fact that this documentary was not only about racism in our past, but also how it affects us today. Our Mockingbird, not only showed how it affects our lives today, but it showed that effect on teenagers, people I can easily relate to. At the beginning, the teens felt weird and awkward. It felt like they were put into a whole other world. It was astonishing to me that black people and white people had really never had any type of socialization with each other since they lived in different parts of their town. As the video proceeded, the students really began to realize that not only was this such a crazy feeling, but they began to learn about what it really felt like back in the 1960s when racism was very much alive. Through the characters they played in their show and the interactions and bonding they had with each other, they learned how it felt to feel segregated and completely separated from what felt like a historical place. Students that live in different parts of any town can relate to the film, because the separateness exists everywhere, and if not the physical separation than the mental separation.
The other standout-theme, and cause of the whole documentary was how To Kill a Mockingbird, was used to describe society today. The book is referred to as a classic, e.i. a no matter when, a person will always find something in the book to relate to. For the teenagers in the documentary they related to the segregation and the racial injustice of the time the book is set in. But other than the lives of the Alabama teens, the documentary applied the book to real life. Real life being the civil rights movement. Through the book people are able to understand the total separateness that blacks and whites faced back in the civil rights movement. The film talks about important events in the civil rights movement such as the 16th Street Baptist church bombing, Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech, the march of Selma. Also, not only does it talk about prominent and noteworthy events such as those, but the film goes into further detail about how black women were the main caretakers of white children during those times. Another topic that was discussed was how children and teenagers would march to stand up for what they believed in, because they did not want their schools to be segregated anymore. All of these events, struggles, injustices can be applied to, To Kill a Mockingbird, and to society today.
Through the lives of regular Southern teenagers, black and white, a story of racism and separation is told. The film describes the struggles that that black people had to face to get to where they are today, but it shows we still have a long way to go. To Kill a Mockingbird is a classic story that is as applicable to society today as it was during the civil rights movement.