December 8, 2023

Author Nelle Harper Lee, who brought light to the issues of racism and division in the South through her American literary classic, “To Kill A Mockingbird,” died at the age of 89 Feb. 19 at her home in Monroeville, Alabama.

Michael Morrison, president of HarperCollins U.S., said in a statement Lee was an extraordinary woman who was not only a brilliant writer but also full of joy, kindness and humility.

Many of Lee’s fans took to social media to express the impact she had on their lives. Posts ranged from their learning to see life from others’ points of views to inspiration to become writers and lawyers.

Although she only published two books during her lifetime — “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Go Set A Watchman” in 1960 and 2015 respectively — she is considered to be a literary hero of the 20th century.

Students all over the world study the work that earned her the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1961 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom from former President George W. Bush in 2007.

“I liked how Harper Lee changed the outlook on outcasted individuals,” said Lacey Machal, freshman health science major. “Everybody has a story.”

In 2010, President Barack Obama presented Lee with the National Medal of Arts for her contributions to literature. He, along with First Lady Michelle Obama, released a statement following her death.

“What that one story did, more powerfully than one hundred speeches possibly could, was change the way we saw each other and then the way we saw ourselves,” Obama said in the statement. “Through the uncorrupted eyes of a child, she showed us the beautiful complexity of our common humanity, and the importance of striving for justice in our own lives, our communities and our country. Ms. Lee changed America for the better.”

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