Looking back over this year of the 50th Anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird, it has been great to see America’s novel garner fresh attention. I have found it particularly interesting how many times Harper Lee’s book has been in the news surrounding the current President’s life and administration recently. The book appeared on the first daughter’s summer reading list when President Obama emerged from a bookstore with a copy in hand. This fall, Attorney General Eric Holder quoted the book in a speech addressing the treatment of terror suspects.
Presidential attention for Mockingbird is nothing new. It was former President Bush who invited Harper Lee to the White House on November 5, 2007 and awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the nation’s highest civilian honor. To Kill a Mockingbird holds a prominent position in the hearts (and on the reading lists) of so many influential Americans. It appears the novel has had an influence on President Obama’s thinking for a while. I came across this video recently of the (then future) President speaking to a group in 2006 about Atticus’s famous lines. Thought you would enjoy it: