On April 17, Inman Middle School had a special visit from actress Mary Badham, who portrayed Jean Louise “Scout” Finch in the 1962 film adaptation of Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Badhma was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress — the youngest actress nominated in this category at the time.
“I’m so glad to be here and that your teachers thought it was important enough for me to be here,” Badham told an audience full of eighth graders.
Badham talked about her experience as a young child on set, race relations, and the power of education.
The 1961 Pultizer Prize winning novel provides a view of racial injustice through the lens of its 6-year-old female protagonist Jean Louise “Scout” Finch. When a black man is accused of rape in 1930s Alabama, Scout’s dad Atticus accepts the role as his lawyer.
Like Scout, Badham is a self-professed tomboy and also grew up in Alabama.
“When I grew up in the 50s and 60s, not much had changed since the 30s,” Badham said. “The races were separated. If a Black boy so much as looked me in the face, he could’ve been beaten or killed, and nobody would’ve said anything.”
Drawing the connection to today, Inman interrelated teacher Dr. Stephen Alfred shared statistics about the disproportionate amount of unarmed African Americans who are fatally shot by police compared to whites. He encouraged students to be change agents.
“You are the game changers,” Dr. Alfred said. “Be the problem solvers. When all you can do is react, you become a problem creator, and there’s a whole other system for that.”
The question and answer portion ended with Badham asking students to repeat the following mantras.
“Ignorance is the root of all evil.”
“Education is the key to freedom.”
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