Teaching To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is an opportunity for educators to introduce their students to the America of the Great Depression and to the American South during the Jim Crow era.
Here are several resources that place To Kill a Mockingbird in a historical prespective:
American Experience's documentary "Scottsboro: An American Tragedy:" In the 1930s the trials of the nine falsely accused teens would draw North and South into their sharpest conflict since the Civil War, yield two momentous Supreme Court decisions and give birth to the Civil Rights Movement. The film is supplemented with a timeline, maps, contemporary interviews, and a teacher's guide.
That's Alabama and ThinkQuest provide outlines of the Scottosboro trials.
And, I would be remiss if I left out a new book—The Eyes of Willie McGee: A Tragedy of Race, Sex, and Secrets in the Jim Crow South by Alex Heard. McGee, a handyman in a small town in Mississippi, was arrested in November 1945 and charged with the rape of white woman. During his trial, there were threats of lynching and rumors that the white woman had been the sexual aggressor. Of course, you'll note that this is similar to the plot of To Kill a Mockingbird.
This short video will introduce you and your students to the trial of Willie McGee.