Gentlemen of the jury, I stand in front of you today as your peer. I, like you, am a member of this community concerned about Mayella Ewell’s safety and demand justice be served. However, the justice I am demanding stretches further than the one incident we are discussing in this courtroom; I demand justice for all, including our neighbors who we tend not to acknowledge as our neighbors. Tom Robinson is our neighbor- he is a member of this community and has been accused of hurting Mayella when he was helping her, as any good neighbor would do. The color of Tom’s skin does not exclude him as a beneficial member of our community and it surely does not make him responsible for wiping up the mess that has been made.
*Looks towards Mayella*
I cannot say that I would do or say anything different if I were in Mayella’s shoes. With a community so certain that a mere skin pigmentation makes one evil and unaccepted, how could she let the town believe she tempted poor Tom? The difference still is that I could not have let guilt take me this far. Fueled and feared over threats from her father, Bob Ewell, Mayella is attempting to sacrifice another human being’s life to save her own. She should not feel like she has to do this, therefore, we should not allow it.
We have all been here for this trial. You gentlemen heard both sides of this story with the same human ears that I posses myself and you know that there is not a piece of evidence worthy of charging this man. All Tom offered was a helping hand- his only good one, at that- and we cannot let him go down for this. If you cannot look past your personal emotions and prejudices to make a reasonable decision in this case, you should not have allowed yourself to be a part of this. If you are unwilling to stand up for what is right, in fear of social consequences, you should not be a member of this jury. And if you came here knowing you would convict Tom, no matter how the trial went, justice will never be served…progress will never be made.
The Ewells’ testimonies never lined up. You do not have to remember the truth; truth comes naturally and the expression of aggression and hysteria, as Mayella has shown during questioning, comes from her guilt over the lies she has told. The fact that Tom can still feel pity for her is astonishing to us all, and he is a brave man for that. We may not believe it is right for Tom to feel sorry for Mayella, but all he ever did was help her out of the kindness within himself. Stubbornness and ignorance cannot right any wrongs. Knowledge, reason, and justice are what will make this right. I know I am not alone; we share these values and though our approaches may be different, we ultimately desire the same outcome. Not everything can be swept under the rug and we cannot shy away from the reality of the situation. A man’s entire life is at stake here. Now, imagine if that were you- born into the wrong situation. We are all Tom Robinson. It should have never come to this, but now is the time to right the wrongs. Thank you, gentlemen of the jury.
To Kill a Mockingbird. Dir. Robert Mulligan. By Horton Foote. Perf. Gregory Peck, Mary Badham, and Phillip Alford. Universal-International, 1962. Web (Netflix). 13 Sept. 2016.