I chose this song by Bakermat because it features the most iconic clip of “I have a dream” speech. The speech itself represents all that the activists were fighting for: equality between the two races, and even more – brother- and sisterhood between them to fulfill the real potential of America, but what I found even more astonishing is that the very same speech was partially improvised and yet it later became selected as the most important speech of 20th century. Martin Luther King Jr. was never meant to say the words “I have a dream” in the speech he gave during the March on Washington in 1963, and yet these words have found their way to the modern pop culture. It shows just how things that are close to people’s hearts are the ones that become timeless.

Notions

Civil Rights Movements – 1954-1968, also called Second Reconstruction Era, included noted legislation and organized efforts to abolish public and private acts of racial discrimination against African Americans and other disadvantaged groups. Forms of protest and/or civil disobedience included boycotts, such as the successful Montgomery Bus Boycott(1955–56) in Alabama; “sit-ins” such as the influential Greensboro sit-ins (1960) in North Carolina and successful Nashville sit-ins in Tennessee; marches, such as the 1963 Birmingham Children’s Crusade and 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches (1965) in Alabama. The movement achieved its largest legislative gains in the mid-1960s, after years of direct actions and grassroots protests. African Americans re-entered politics in the South, and across the country young people were inspired to take action.

Striking members of Memphis Local 1733 hold signs whose slogan symbolized the sanitation workers’ 1968 campaign. 1968

Brown vs. Topeka Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka was one of the cornerstones of the civil rights movement, and helped establish the precedent that “separate-but-equal” education and other services were not, in fact, equal at all. In the case that would become most famous, a plaintiff named Oliver Brown filed a class-action suit against the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, in 1951, after his daughter, Linda Brown, was denied entrance to Topeka’s all-white elementary schools.

In his lawsuit, Brown claimed that schools for black children were not equal to the white schools, and that segregation violated the so-called “equal protection clause” of the 14th Amendment, which holds that no state can “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” When Brown’s case and four other cases related to school segregation first came before the Supreme Court in 1952, the Court combined them into a single case under the name Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. May 17, 1954, “in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place,” as segregated schools are “inherently unequal.” As a result, the Court ruled that the plaintiffs were being “deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.” It didn’t achieve school desegregation, but contributed to the developing Civil Rights Movement.

Little Rock Nine In May 1955, the Court issued a second opinion in the case (known as Brown v. Board of Education II), which remanded future desegregation cases to lower federal courts and directed district courts and school boards to proceed with desegregation “with all deliberate speed.” Though well intentioned, the Court’s actions effectively opened the door to local judicial and political evasion of desegregation. While Kansas and some other states acted in accordance with the verdict, many school and local officials in the South defied it.

In one major example, Governor Orval Faubus of Arkansas called out the state National Guard to prevent black students from attending high school in Little Rock in 1957. After a tense standoff, President Eisenhower deployed federal troops, and nine students—known as the “Little Rock Nine”—were able to enter Central High School under armed guard.   

The role of Rosa Parks – in 1955, Rosa Parks (a black woman) refused to give up her seat on Montgomery, Alabama bus. He was arrested and fined 14 dollars in total. It sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott (the first demonstration against segregation), Led by a young Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the boycott lasted more than a year—during which Parks not coincidentally lost her job—and ended only when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that bus segregation was unconstitutional. Over the next half-century, Parks became a nationally recognized symbol of dignity and strength in the struggle to end entrenched racial segregation.

NAACP, Jim Crow and disenfranchisement –

NAACP – The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was formed in 1909 to fight Jim Crow. It fought for open and equal access to education and employment for Negroes, also against lynching and offer legal assistance to defend black people mistreated in criminal court. NAACP became the nation’s premier civil rights organization.

http://theoklahomaeagle.net/2018/02/12/little-known-black-history-fact-naacp/

Jim Crow Laws – state and local laws that enforced racial segregation in the Southern United States. All were enacted in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by white Democratic-dominated state legislatures after the Reconstruction period. The laws were enforced until 1965. The legal principle of “separate, but equal” racial segregation was extended to public facilities and transportation, including the coaches of interstate trains and buses. Facilities for African Americans and Native Americans were consistently inferior and underfunded, compared to the facilities for white Americans; sometimes there were no facilities for people of color. These Jim Crow laws revived principles of the 1865 and 1866 Black Codes, which had previously restricted the civil rights and civil liberties of African Americans. Segregation of public (state-sponsored) schools was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education. The remaining Jim Crow laws were overruled by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/x2Iwa9LeuFM/maxresdefault.jpg

Enfranchisement – was  based on a series of laws, new constitutions, and practices in the South that were deliberately used to prevent black citizens from registering to vote and voting. These measures were enacted by the former Confederate states at the turn of the 20th century, and by Oklahoma when it gained statehood in 1907, although not by the former border slave states.

March on Washington, the role of Martin Luther King

March on Washington – also known as the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, a massive protest march that occurred in August 1963, when some 250,000 people gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. The event aimed to draw attention to continuing challenges and inequalities faced by African Americans a century after emancipation. The march was organized by A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin, who built an alliance of civil rights, labor, and religious organizations that came together under the banner of “jobs and freedom.” The march is credited with helping to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and preceded the Selma Voting Rights Movement which led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

At the march, Martin Luther King Jr., standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial, delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech in which he called for an end to racism. He was an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968.

https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/us-history/postwarera/civil-rights-movement/a/the-march-on-washington-for-jobs-and-freedom

Black Power movement, Black Panther Party –

Black Power Movement – grew out of the Civil rights movement, Black Power activists founded black-owned bookstores, food cooperatives, farms, media, printing presses, schools, clinics and ambulance services. At the movement’s peak in the early 1970s, some of its more militant leaders were killed during conflicts with police, prompting many activists to abandon the movement. While black American thinkers such as Robert F. Williams and Malcolm X influenced the early Black Power movement, the Black Panther Party and its views are widely seen as the cornerstone. It was influenced by philosophies such as pan-Africanism, black nationalism and socialism, as well as contemporary events including the Cuban Revolution and the decolonization of Africa.

Black Panther Party – originally the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, was a political organization founded by Bobby Seale and Huey Newton in October 1966 in Oakland, California. active in the United States from 1966 until 1982, with chapters in numerous major cities, and international chapters operating in the United Kingdom in the early 1970s, and in Algeria from 1969 until 1972. At its inception on October 15, 1966, the Black Panther Party’s core practice was its armed citizens’ patrols to monitor the behavior of officers of the Oakland Police Department and challenge police brutality in the city. The Black Panther Party instituted a variety of community social programs, most extensively the Free Breakfast for Children Programs, to address issues like food injustice, and community health clinics for education and treatment of diseases including sickle cell anemia, tuberculosis, and later HIV/AIDS.  There were active chapters in many prisons, at a time when an increasing number of young African-American men were being incarcerated.

“the greatest threat to the internal security of the country.”

500 words

“The Help” taking place during 1960s in Mississippi is a movie that helps to understand the conditions of the African-American maids, their relationships with their employers and what kind of a person you want to be.

“Ms. Chastain and Ms. Spencer make quite the raucous comedy team, and while there’s pleasure in their routine, all that comedy can feel misplaced.“

https://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/10/movies/the-help-spans-two-worlds-white-and-black-review.html

As an objection, I really enjoyed the comic aspects of the movie and the lightness it gave to it. Most especially I enjoyed the way it was attached to the film. The comicalness wasn’t anything artificial but rooted right into the characters which I felt, gave “The Help” an additional value without making concessions on the more serious message.

“Tate Taylor’s script and direction is at its strongest while exploring the painful paradoxes and power-shifts between maid and employer: the physical intensity of the relationship between white children and the black “help”, who constantly cuddles and soothes them, while the adult white women – immobilised and emotionally withered by social codes – shrink from touching either maids or children.”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/filmreviews/8850312/The-Help-review.html

The attitudes and actions of the white women in Mississippi in 1960s, even though they seemed to believe what they were doing was right, make you want to scream and stop being a white with Skeeter being the only consolation. Taylor really did an amazing job with guiding the audience’s approvals and judgements occasionally with only the slight nuances of the help’s unconditional commitment to the white children vs. the constant threat of getting fired for one wrong word after years of all the right ones from their parents.

“Good films rarely feel like lectures, and the performances in The Help are so strong and so moving that the lack of any right-on Hollywood finger-wagging to distract from them is a blessed relief.”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/filmreviews/8850312/The-Help-review.html

First, I need to give credit for the performances as the team of actresses was exceptional. Second, at least for the ending of the movie, it managed to make me want to be and actually feel like a better person without telling me to. Seeing Hilly, almost broken inside after her and Aibileen’s argument, and Elizabeth on the verge of tears and begging Aibileen to stay when she was fired, I couldn’t help but to feel empathy for them. I think that’s what a good film should be like.

Tate Taylor easily managed to incorporate both – two and a half hours of pleasant time and a reminder of one of the biggest sins against humanity. The cast was stunning and the message deep despite the sometimes funny approach and light filter. A good movie.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.