RAY WHATLEY IS RECOGNIZED AS A TRUE-LIFE ATTICUS FINCH

 

Ray Whatley, who is Joe Whatley’s uncle, is a 98 year old retired Methodist Preacher. There is a new book about Harper Lee's father, entitled Atticus Finch, by Professor Joseph Crespino. The author interviewed Uncle Ray and included the following statement about him at page 77: "it must be said, though Harper Lee herself never seemed to recognize it, that Ray Whatley was a genuine, true-life example of the heroic figure that Mockingbird would eventually evoke to such everlasting fame: the principled white southerner who made a public stand for racial decency and fairness and suffered because of it."

In the 1950s and 1960s Rev. Whatley preached about racial fairness and for the rights of workers to unionize and thereby to earn more of the fruits of their labor. More recently, as he has approached a 70 year history as an ordained minister, he has continued his civil rights efforts by publicly supporting the rights to same sex marriage.