Members of the jury this case boils to evidence and testimony. I am here to ask you whether you will use the evidence presented to reach a verdict, or rather hearsay delivered in this courtroom today. What is the evidence? We know that the state has failed to deliver any medical evidence connecting Tom Robinson to the crime. We are also aware of the fact that the state’s Chief witness, Mayella Ewell, was beaten by an individual who has functionality of both hands and greater control of the left. And yet we have charged, and are bringing, a man who cannot be placed at the scene of the crime nor has the function of his left hand to question. What the defense has successfully done, however, is present two witnesses who have failed to bring coherent testimonies to the events of the crime when compared to the information given to us by the State’s Chief witness, Mayella Ewell. I ask once again; will you use evidence or testimony to reach a decision?
Tom Robinson stands before you, charged on the basis of a stereotype, the basic assumption that all black men are dangerous. And yet Tom Robinson is a kind hearted man, all he ever did was help Mayella because he felt sorry for her. Mayella Ewell is fragile, ignorant and a victim of manipulation. Who would not feel sorry for her?
I do not want to be part of a courtroom that does not believe that a black man has the capacity to feel, not just feel, but feel like a young ignorant and helpless woman deserves compassion. And that is all Tom Robinson did, he had a sense of compassion and humanity. When I look at Mayella Ewell I see a helpless and unfortunate woman, a woman in need of help. Does the color of Tom Robinson’s skin blind him from her misfortune? The state has continued to play to the exhibition that black men are dangerous and expect the court to do the same. Their case is based on the assumption that no black man has the ability to feel because all they are capable of is violence. Dare I say that in many ways Tom Robinson is similar to you and me – he feels. And just like you and I would, he felt for Mayella.
This brave black man is willing to stand and fight for what is right, he is willing to stand for honesty even though it may be difficult because of our societal norms. He stands here in a courtroom filled with jurors who are more similar to the two men who lied on the stand just to see Tom Robinson pay for a crime he did not commit. I admire Tom, he is willing to stand for what we believe in as a community. He stands for honesty; he will not make a mockery of the court nor will he do what would be easier – accepting what the state considers to be his fate. Because in what world can the word of a white man be overruled by that of a black man? In a world I strive to live in, the word of an honest man will always overrule that of a dishonest one.
Once again I will ask: today, will you allow justice to be based on hearsay or evidence?
To Kill a Mockingbird. Dir. Robert Mulligan. By Horton Foote. Perf. Gregory Peck, Mary Badham, and Philip Alford. Universal International, 1962. Web. 10 Sept 2016.