In 1960, Harper Lee published one of the great American masterpieces, To Kill a Mockingbird, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize.
Devoted fans of the groundbreaking coming-of-age story about race relations in the South were left wanting more when Lee promptly retired from professional writing.
A sequel to the novel was published under questionable circumstances only months before her death, but now, undisputed letters handwritten by Lee, who died last year, have been unveiled and will be auctioned off tomorrow by her estate.
Among the writings is a letter to a friend on January 20, 2009 in which she reflects on the inauguration of President Obama.
“On this Inauguration Day I count my blessings,” she wrote of the swearing in of America’s first Black president.
She then shared a story of her good friend Gregory Peck, star of Mockingbird‘s film adaptation, and President Lyndon Johnson, who signed the 1965 Civil Rights Act:
“I’m also thinking of another friend, Greg Peck, who was a good friend of LBJ,” she wrote. “Greg said to him, ‘Do you suppose we will live to see a black President?’ LBJ said, ‘No, but I’d wish her well.’”
The anecdote is a wonderful snapshot of the thinking of one of our most legendary writers and a president who worked to make lives better for the less fortunate.
Their memories continue to inspire us and serve as a reminder that we can and must do better.