It is a common fact that the pre-war South was extremely prejudiced. Blacks were thought of as no more than property that could be traded or sold. Therefore, when a black was accused of committing a crime, blame was automatically assigned regardless of whether or not the accusation was truthful.
In this story, Atticus Finch was given the task of defending a black man at trial, an almost unheard of practice at the time. Astoundingly, Atticus never questioned the Judges request of him to defend a black man; Atticus felt that Tom Robinson deserved a fair trial.I feel that Atticus and Scout were perfect protagonist for Harper Lees feelings about racism. When you defend prejudice or racism of African Americans (or what ever they would prefer to be addressed as) you usually only have two viewpoints to chose from: Blacks or Whites.
However, Lee chose to explain prejudice through the eyes of an unbiased child, Scout; and her anti-racist father, Atticus. In an ironic way, Scout learned that having a prejudice was not always justified. For example, Scout and her brother Jem treated Aurthur Boo Radley differently because of the things that they heard about him. However in the end, Boo saved Scout and Jem from Mr. Ewell. Also, I do not think that Scout really knew what racism was.
Why would she; the Finchs had a black housekeeper, Calpurnia, that was treated with the same respect that any other person would receive. In the story, segregation was obvious; Blacks sat in the balcony of the courthouse and were not allowed to serve on the jury. And the worst example of prejudice was the fact the it could be proven with almost certainty that Tom did not commit the crime, yet he was proven to be guilty due to the accusations of a disturbed white family.
I feel that any book or movie that encourages anti-racism and equality is helpful in the fight against prejudice. If a story can take us out of our comfort-zone for one minute, and allow us to realize what it is like to walk around in someone elses skin; has accomplished something great. It allows someone to feel things from the flip side and hopefully compel them to treat the prejudiced more like equals and with the respect they deserve.