The Help

Visual representation of the era:

A front page of a newspaper introducing the result of Brown vs Topeka case.

Source: https://www.tutor2u.net/politics/reference/brown-v-board-of-education-1953

The rationale:

This is a cut from a newspaper which is covering the supreme court’s decision to end the “Separate but equal” doctrine. This was achieved by an individual going to court because of wanting his child to gain good education. It marks a huge milestone for African Americans’ rights. For the first time they are legally able to obtain the same education as the whites do. Education plays a major role in our society for growing aware and thinking people who know their value. Thanks to equal education, Civil Rights Movements got a new swing. This picture of newspaper is connected to the era because we can see that out of everything, they are especially accentuating this Brown vs Topeka news. This means they are selling their product through the equal rights’ idea. This is a good representation that all people are eminently interested in the topic and that Civil Rights Movements’ popularity is immense. All of that attention ultimately lead to the norm of every citizen having equal rights.

Critical response to “The Help”

“The Help” was about racial discrimination against coloured people during the 1960s. The story involves around a young journalist who wants to write a book showing the perspective of African American maids in their society. It teaches us that standing up for yourself is difficult but in the end, worth it. Despite it being a good film, there are a few issues with it that I am going to discuss.

First of all, when it comes to historical accuracy, it’s considered not to be that detailed.
“It isn’t exactly a whitewashed version of the era, but neither does it accurately portray the depth of the anger and cruelty that lurked behind the sandwich counters of Jackson and behind those shiny, happy Garden of the Month Club signs.” (1) I agree that the film might have not shown us the consummate meanness of whites towards African Americans. Particularly because Mississippi was one of the most segregated states in the U.S which means the attitude of whites was probably even more despicable than that of shown in the movie. For example, the contempt towards African Americans was often even accompanied with physical violence. Nevertheless, I think the aim wasn’t exactly to make the viewers principally disgusted of various ways in which whites belittled coloured people anyways. It was rather to show the inequality and discrimination. Something which was perfectly got across by the means used in the movie as well. The whites’ actions and statements did make us feel embarrassed about mankind and made us feel sorry about the situation for African Americans. This means everything necessary on that part was there and the film could concentrate on other issues. For this reason I believe being historically very accurate was not that important in this case and it can be looked past.

Furthermore, some are worried that the main character’s race is giving misleading signs to the viewer. “It is troubling, as some American critics have pointed out, that the maids only gain the courage to stand up to their employers thanks to a white woman.” (2) I see how this can be off putting for some critics because if the main character fighting for coloured people’s rights is white, then it can convey a false message of black people being helpless. It can enforce the fallacious understanding that African Americans are capable of doing nothing themselves and can only achieve anything thanks to a white person helping them. Notwithstanding, in my opinion, that this is an incredibly bigoted viewpoint and the majority of audience will not think that. I conjecture that it was necessary to portray Skeeter as white because the aim was also to show that not all of the white people were racist. It would be unfair to those who during the 1960s, despite of being white, still advocated for blacks’ rights. It was not intended to sway from one extreme to another and imply that all of the whites are indisputably bad and all of the African Americans good.

In conclusion, I liked the movie and I think it made a great effort to educate modern day people about the the unbelievable discrimination towards African Americans during last century. I believe it to be a great movie without any major flaws and I would recommend it to others as well.

Sources:

  1. https://www.nola.com/movies/2011/08/the_help_review.html
  2. https://www.empireonline.com/movies/help-2/review/

Notions

The Civil Rights Era:

Civil Rights Movements:

At the end of the 19th century, despite being more or less equal on paper, African Americans in South were forced to go to different schools, live often in different towns, use different public facilities. Fights to secure legally equal rights for African-Americans. Started in the 1950s-1970, started by A-As who had had enough… A-A measures were political protests, forming political party(ies). African-Americans encountered hostility from people, different treatment from government, police violence. Organisation NAACP, the most influental civil rights organisation, fought against capital punishment and unequal education. They thought segregated education=roots of all the civil rights problems. At first, in WW2, blacks joining military was not encouraged, most of them were from really low classes. Even though other jobs salaries rose, blacks’ didn’t. After high pressure, Roosevelt issued an act where blacks were let to practice government’s jobs.

Brown vs. Topeka:

In 1954,a  supreme court case where all the voters were for of eliminating racial discrimination of children in public schools. Before, since 1896 an act by supreme court said “separate-but-equal”, which implied that racial segregation in schools is legal as long as the education obtained is equal. This was now dismissed. All began when Oliver Brown filed a motion against school of Topeka denying his brown child to obtain education there, argumenting that it is the violation of 14th amendment. There were more similar filings which were all put together and formed the “Brown vs. Topeka” case. At first, the voters where divided but before going to court, Vinson died, and after his replacement, the vote was unanimous. Systems were not changed right away but it enlightened people on the matter and many civil rights movements happened after that.

Little rock nine:

Group of school A.A students in Arkansas who  denounced racial segregation. 9 students wanted to enroll in Little Rock high-school, formerly all-white, because of the recent Brown vs. Topeka. However, were welcomed by insults and threats. Largely due to the State governor, O.G.Faubus, was a racist. He had also called soldiers to block the entrance to the school. This incident permeated through media causing people to pay attention to racism and state-,federal government’s power questions.  Trying to return, the rock nine kept attempting to attend school, even through soldiers’ escort. FInally, governor closed all the public schools and providing whites the education through private academies.

The role of Rosa Parks:

In 1955 a woman who refused to give her seat up on a bus to the driver’s order, when a white passenger arrived and didn’t have anywhere to sit. At the time, seats were divided (back for blacks, front for whites). The bus driver moved the sign of whites a row backwards when whites couldn’t sit. Even though, before, it was a blacks’ row. Rosa refused to give the seat up and was arrested and had to pay a bill. The incident caused NAACP to realise that they needed to proceed with getting rid of the bus law and fighting for blacks’ rights. M.L.King was chosen as the head of NAACP. They created Montgomery Bus Boycott which was one of the largest movements against racism. All based on Rosa Parks’ courage to stand ground.

NAACP, Jim Crow and disenfranchisement:

Jim Crow’s laws were  supporting racism in Southern States. Jim Crow (blacks’ folk trickster) was a caricature by Rice which became an insult. Since 1896 “Separate but equal” a slogan of Jim Crow was the foundation of segregating blacks in schools etc.

Disenfranchisement was to prevent blacks from voting. NAACP- National association for the advancement of coloured people. Civil RIghts’ institution founded in 1906. Made to advance African Americans’ lives.

March on Washington, the role of Martin Luther King:

March involving 250k people who went to Washington to protest. Gathered in front of Lincoln’s statue and started demanding equality and ending the vicissitudes of life for African Americans. March was encouraged by the attacks on demonstrators in Alabama. In Washington, among many speaches was also Martin Luther King’s delivered “I have a dream” speach. The speech turned out to be 16mins instead of 4mins long. The most famous lines were actually not supposed to be in the speech and it was improvised. This speech saw the idea of all God’s people living peacefully under the same nation.

Loving vs Virginia case:

Mildred Jeter(African American) and Richard Loving(white) married in District of Columbia. When they returned to Virginia, they were accused of breaking the law which prohibited marriages between blacks and whites. The pair was found guilty and had to spend a year in jail unless they were willing to leave Virginia for the next 25 years.

Civil Rights Act of 1964, Voting Rights Act of 1965:

In 1963, president Kennedy proposed the bill to Congress but in 1964 it was finally implemented. This barred discrimination AND segregation in education, public facilities, jobs, housing. It produced the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission which would ensure fairness within smaller communities. Voting Rights Act was enacted after Bloody Sunday where 600 protesters in Alabama were greeted with attacks from deputies and state troopers. Killing peaceful protesters. President Johnson decided that more laws are needed for protection of civil rights. The Voting rights act claimed that “all Americans must have the privileges of citizenship regardless of race.” It outlawed the prior taxes or tests that were required to be able to vote.

Black Power movement, Black Panther Party:

A movement that grew from Civil Rights Movements. When the previous movements consisted of political- and violent protests, Black Power’s strategy was creating a lot of African Americans’ owned agencies (food stores, cooperatives, farms, media). Black Panther Party was a political party which had armed citizens who would oversee the police departments and prevent their brutal racism. Very left-socialist views. Maoism ideas. (difference from Marxism-Leninism: The spreaders of revolutionary politics are the peasantry).

The Help” discussion:

(Despite having these questions here, in the lesson, we didn’t ask them all and had to improvise at times because we did not have much time to go over everything in detail and we adapted ourselves to the nature of the discussion.)

Warm up: Favourite character why?

At the beginning of the movie, what does the following scene tell us (about the mindset of African-Americans): Aibileen is asked: “Did you know that you’d become a maid?”, Aib answered, “Yes because my mama was a maid, my grandma was a house-slave”? (even though dreamed of being something else)tt

How does Aib’s quote: “God minds no colour when he decides to let tornado loose,” describe her worldview?

A: It gives the feeling that she believes everyone is equal in front of god and this might be one of the reasons throughout the movie she endures the discrimination. Maids put great emphasis on religion; God knows the value of each person and despite the discrimination by whites, His judgement will be righteous if you have lived your life to the best of your capabilities (morally, physically) which inspires them to live correctly.

Let’s discuss the scene where the new maid, after Minny, in Hilly’s house asks to lend money for his boys to be able to go to college, Hilly refuses and responds: “As a Christian, I’m doing you a favour, god does not give charity to those who are well and able, u have to come up with that money on your own.” – Even though being miserly goes rather against the Christian values, what does her interpretation of it say about fulfilling Christianity’s purpose?

A: Christianity was created largely to prevent people from acting immorally, she is using it in a completely adverse way. Does this mean Christianity’s values might be described/propagated too vaguely if people are able to bend the 10 commands this way?-> and what’s the impact of religion on Southern white people? A: Big impact, always has been. Found justification from religion to profit from economic development.   

What do you think Hilly meant in the scene where she does not want to use the bathroom she thinks Aib had used and when Skeeter tries to make fun of the situation, Hilly says: “You shouldn’t joke about the coloured situation, I do whatever it takes to protect our children.” ->Describe the irony here.

A: the women made very little effort to even deal with their children and it was all done by black maids.

What made these  “housewives” be racist, why are they ‘blind’ and unable to see the injustice?

Social norms. Parents.

Why do the children turn out racist when they actually loved their maids in their childhood

What were some of the things that black people/the maids were not allowed to do, compared to whites, that were shown in the movie? Why?

A: Use the same toilet, eat at the same table, talk to them informally, talk back, be interviewed, use the same books as a white person at school, ride on the bus at the same part. The white people thought of them as dirty and for that reason didn’t want to use the same items. They also felt superior and thought they could act however they want and have power over these people.

What details did you notice that the filmmakers had given to African-Americans’ everyday lives?

A: They had to ride a separate bus to white families. They were not allowed to talk to white people. They had work on top of work. Constantly disrespected.

Same question about wealthy white women.

Gender role differences? What were the strengths and limitations of being a woman

To elaborate on the subject, why was Stuart (skeeter’s bf) so upset with Skeeter?

A: probably cos of the book cos he was a racist.-> “U a selfish woman Skeeter,” – What does this tell us about his intelligence/ability to see the bigger picture,  elucidate us the irony.

What role does a man play in each family->how do the women react to those roles; are they satisfied, furious etc?

A: In most families, the man is the one earning the money, the white women seem to be pretty satisfied with sitting around the house all day and hosting parties. In Minny’s case, the man is abusive and dictating. It makes her angry and scared but she’s dependent on him, so she can’t leave. Skeeter, on the other hand, doesn’t really want to get married and is very independent, speaks bluntly what’s in her mind.

Aibileen kept repeating to the child she took care of “You is kind, you is smart, you is important”, why do you think was it so accentuated/ why was it so pronounced in the movie?

A: She probably wanted the child to grow up kind and not be racist like the women at that time, also she knew that her own mother wasn’t giving her any love but Aibileen loved all those children like her own. It might have been so pronounced to show that despite the rudeness of the white women and how much they hated them, the maids still cared for the children like their own and loved them.


Full Metal Jacket (by Maian)

Notions

Iron Curtain:

The Iron Curtain is the name for the “barrier” that separated the communist and non-communist territories. It was “set” by the Soviet Union after World War II to separate itself and its dependent Eastern and Central European allies from any contact in the west and any other non-communist areas. The “barrier” was recognized as the Iron Curtain by Winston Churchill in a speech at Fulton, Missouri on March 5th 1946.
Winston Churchill condemns the Soviet Union’s policies in Europe and declares, “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.” Churchill meant that the Soviet Union had separated the eastern European countries from the west so that no one knew what was going on behind the “curtain.” He used the word “iron” to signify that it was impenetrable. Nazi German Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels had already used the term in reference to the Soviet Union.
Churchill’s speech is considered one of the opening volleys announcing the beginning of the Cold War.

Border of the Iron Curtain

Truman doctrine, policy of containment, arms race

Truman doctrine
With the Truman Doctrine, President Harry S. Truman established on March 12th 1947, that the United States would provide political, military and economic assistance to all democratic nations under threat from external or internal authoritarian forces.
Policy of containment
Containment was a foreign policy strategy followed by the United States during the Cold War. First laid out by George F. Kennan in 1947, the policy stated that communism needed to be contained and isolated, or else it would spread to neighbouring countries. American foreign policy advisors believed that once one country fell to communism, each surrounding country would fall as well, like a row of dominoes. This view was known as the domino theory.
Arms race
The destruction of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by American atomic weapons in August 1945 began an arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union. This lasted until the signing of the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty of November 1990.

McCarthy era

The McCarthy Era was marked by dramatic accusations that communists had infiltrated the highest levels of American society as part of a global conspiracy. The period took its name from a Wisconsin senator, Joseph McCarthy, who created a frenzy in the press in February 1950 with his claim that hundreds of communists were spread throughout the State Department and other sectors of the Truman administration.McCarthy did not create a widespread fear of communism in America at the time. But he was responsible for creating a pervasive atmosphere of suspicion which had dangerous consequences. Anyone’s loyalty could be questioned, and many Americans were unfairly placed in the position of having to prove they were not communist sympathizers.
After a heyday of four years in the early 1950s, McCarthy was discredited. His thundering accusations turned out to be unfounded.
Universities, left-wing organizations were mostly under the look-out.

Senator Joseph McCarthy
(doesn’t he look suspicious?)

Korean War

At the end of the Second World War, Korea – which had formerly been occupied by the Japanese – was divided along the 38th Parallel. This was an internal border between North and South Korea based on a circle of latitude.
The North soon fell under the influence of the Soviet Union whilst the South relied on the support of the Americans. The Korean People’s Army (KPA) was established in North Korea in February 1948, from Korean communist guerrillas who had previously served with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, but were ‘advised’ by Soviet personnel. On 25 June 1950, the KPA invaded South Korea and rapidly advanced southwards trapping South Korean and American troops in a small perimeter around the port of Pusan.
The United Nations, with the United States (us, GB, Australia, Canada, India, NZ, South Africa) as the principal participant, joined the war on the side of the South Koreans, and the People’s Republic of China came to North Korea’s aid. After more than a million combat casualties had been suffered on both sides, the fighting ended in July 1953 with Korea still divided into two hostile states. Negotiations in 1954 produced no further agreement, and the front line has been accepted ever since as the de facto boundary between North and South Korea.

Role of J. F. Kennedy

As president (35th), Kennedy confronted mounting Cold War tensions in Cuba, Vietnam and elsewhere. He also led a renewed drive for public service and eventually provided federal support for the growing civil rights movement. Navy and marine corps medal for his service during ww2.

J.F.Kennedy
(not suspicious at all)

Bay of Pigs and the Cuban crisis

In early 1961 President John F. Kennedy concluded that Fidel Castro was a Soviet client working to subvert Latin America. After much debate in his administration, Kennedy authorized a clandestine invasion of Cuba by a brigade of Cuban exiles. The origins of the Cuban Missile Crisis lie in the failed Bay of Pigs on the 17th April 1961 invasion, during which US-supported Cuban exiles hoping to foment an uprising against Castro were overpowered by the Cuban armed forces. After the invasion, Castro turned to the Soviets for protection against future US aggression.
In October 1962, an American U-2 spy plane secretly photographed nuclear missile sites being built by the Soviet Union on the island of Cuba. President Kennedy did not want the Soviet Union and Cuba to know that he had discovered the missiles. He met in secret with his advisors for several days to discuss the problem. After many long and difficult meetings, Kennedy decided to place a naval blockade, or a ring of ships, around Cuba. The aim of this “quarantine,” as he called it, was to prevent the Soviets from bringing in more military supplies. The confrontation is often considered the closest the Cold War came to escalating into a full-scale nuclear war.

Space Race

Soon after World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union became locked in a global conflict pitting democracy against communism. Space became a critical theatre in this Cold War, as each side competed to best the other’s achievements in what became known as the Space Race.
Sputnik – (1st artificial satellite) sometimes called Sputnik 1 – went into space on Oct. 4, 1957. The achievement sent a shockwave through the American public, who had felt a sense of technological superiority amid a post-war economic boom.
Sputnik 2- Laika- muttnik
Yuri Gagarin

Laika- Space Dog and a Soviet Hero

Vietnam War (causes, outcome and consequences)

Causes
Independence
Vietnam had been under French rule since the 19th century. During ww2 Japanise forces invaded Vietnam. To fight off both Japanese and the French, political leader Ho Chi Minh formed the Viet Minh, League for the Vietnam Independence. After World War Two Ho Chi Minh captured Hanoi in 1945 and declared Vietnam independent. The French tried to take control again, but this was unpopular with the people. They were defeated by the Vietminh at Dien Bien Phu in 1954.
The Domino Theory
This was the belief that if one country fell to communism, it was likely that the neighbouring one would also fall – similar to a row of dominoes falling over. This had happened in Eastern Europe after 1945. China had become communist in 1949 and communists were in control of North Vietnam.
Outcome
Objectively, North Vietnam – the communists – who achieved their goals of reuniting and gaining independence for the whole Vietnam won the war whereas South Vietnam under the U.S. support lost the war.
Consequences
It led Congress to replace the military draft with an all-volunteer force and the country to reduce the voting age to 18. It also inspired Congress to attack the “imperial” presidency through the War Powers Act, restricting a president’s ability to send American forces into combat without explicit Congressional approval. The Vietnam War severely damaged the U.S. economy. Unwilling to raise taxes to pay for the war, President Johnson unleashed a cycle of inflation. The war also weakened U.S. military morale and undermined, for a time, the U.S. commitment to internationalism. Poisoned their crops and life.

Richard Nixon and the Watergate Affair

Watergate was a major political scandal that occurred in the United States in the 1970s, following a break-in at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. and President Richard Nixon’s administration’s attempted cover-up of its involvement. When the conspiracy was discovered and investigated by the US Congress, the Nixon administration’s resistance to its probes led to a constitutional crisis.
The term Watergate has come to encompass an array of clandestine and often illegal activities undertaken by members of the Nixon administration. Those activities included such “dirty tricks” as bugging the offices of political opponents and people of whom Nixon or his officials were suspicious.

The role of Henry Kissinger

Henry Alfred Kissinger was the 56th Secretary of State of the United States. After leaving government service, he founded Kissinger Associates, an international consulting firm, of which he is chairman.
On January 27, 1973, Kissinger and his North Vietnamese negotiating partner, Le Duc Tho, finally signed a ceasefire agreement to end direct American involvement in the conflict. Both men were honoured with the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize, although Duc declined, leaving Kissinger the sole recipient of the award.

Counterculture, Summer of Love and Woodstock

Counterculture A counterculture developed in the United States in the late 1960s, lasting from approximately 1964 to 1972, and coinciding with America’s involvement in Vietnam. Counterculture youth rejected the cultural standards of their parents, especially with respect to racial segregation, the Vietnam War, sexual mores, women’s rights, and materialism, poverty.
Summer of Love In the summer of 1967, tens of thousands of young supporters of the counterculture flocked to the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. Virtually taking over the neighbourhood, these so-called ‘hippies’ brought vibrant colours and personalities to the city, filling it with music, drugs and free love in what would go down in history as the Summer of Love.
Woodstock was a music festival held between August 15–18, 1969, which attracted an audience of more than 400,000. Billed as “An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music”, it was held at Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm near White Lake in Bethel, New York, 70 km southwest of Woodstock.

Woodstock festival
Counterculture activists

Visual

Just a disclaimer- the video contains some very graphic content

For my last visual I managed to find the time to watch this extremely alluring documentary about the children of Agent Orange. I had no previous knowledge of this topic so the documentary was very eye-opening. Agent Orange was a mixture of plant-killing chemicals used during the Vietnam War by US troops. It was used as a defoliant to remove tree cover, destroy crops, and clear vegetation. The video focuses on the children whose parents or grandparents were somehow exposed to the chemical. As seen from the short film, the exposure can cause liver problems, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, range of afflictions, miscarriages, psychological symptoms birth defects in children and cancers. It was shocking for me to acknowledge how much suffering had the US caused to the humanity just because they wanted to eliminate forest cover and crops. The children seen from the documentary were all angry, but not just with the US but with the whole sufferings caused by the Vietnam war. It was a bit comforting for me to find out that America does clean up work there. But the lives of the disabled children can never fully compensated.

Review

It took me by a surprise to find that the “Full metal jacket” is not meant to be historically accurate. It is based on a novel “The Short Timers”, which is supposedly on personal experiences. Plus Kubrick (film’s director) ingested countless films, videotapes and books for background.

The first training part in the boot camp was historically form a Marine boot camp in 1967. A review (1) concludes the training part as: “They’ve become the killers that they were trained to be. Now, all they care about is living longer than the guy trying to kill them.” The idea the review was trying to forward is clear- the main focus of the camp was to create indentical products for war. Just like in a factory. But still, I’m not 100% on board with the idea. As we see from the war scenes, Joker was not a programmed killer, unlike Animal Mother. Joker was still humane person, which was seen when giving mercy for the sniper. He was not a killing machine and even seemed to be glad when the bloodwork finally ended. Saying that, I actually found Joker’s character a bit disjointed. As a result of my research I found that I’m clearly not the only one. Many critics stated that the whole film was not very coherent. Tom Volk said something very relatable for me in his review (2): “Every time the movie starts to gain momentum, it is shattered by useless scenes that do nothing to drive the storyline along.” Like the moment we find out something about Joker (ex. About his journalism, peace sign), he’s off making some tacky jokes, going out with a hooker, provoking his boss or doing something x what doesn’t enhance our understanding of the character. In conclusion leaving some unfilled caps in the story.

“Sometimes the characters come alive, other times they seem like so many props for Kubrick’s smoldering landscapes and tracking camera movements.“ (3)

This brings me to the camerawork I found absolutely magnificent. The quality Kubrick has put into “Full metal jacket” just can’t be left out of the review. The camerawork, the soundtracks, the background, everything was in its perfect place. When soldiers were hit by sniper fire, their agony was caught in slow-motion, which made it so much more painful to watch as to be surreal. This scene left me chills and a dazzling emotion.

“One of the greatest war movies” or “seminal depictions of the Vietnam War in cinema,” these and many more titles have been given to the film “Full metal jacket.” Even though the film was not my cup of tea, I find Kubrick to be a master filmmaker after watching FMJ.

References:

  1. J.Morehead, ‘Full Metal Jacket by Stanley Kubrick (Review),’ Opus, available at:
    https://opuszine.us/reviews/full-metal-jacket-stanley-kubrick-1987, accessed: 05.06.19
  2. T.Volk, ‘Criminally Overrated: Full Metal Jacket,’ Spectrum Culture, available at:
    https://spectrumculture.com/2011/11/02/criminally-overrated-full-metal-jacket/, accessed: 05.06.19
  3. D.Howe, ‘Full Metal Jacket,’ The Washington Post, available at:
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/movies/videos/fullmetaljacketrhowe_a0b0d0.htm??noredirect=on, accessed: 05.06.19

“The Help” – Krister Põder

Notions

  • Civil Rights Movements – The Civil Rights Movement encompasses social movements in the United States whose goals were to end racial segregation and discrimination against African Americans and to secure legal recognition and federal protection of the citizenship rights enumerated in the Constitution and federal law. This article covers the phase of the movement between 1954 and 1968, particularly in the South. The leadership was African-American, and much of the political and financial support came from labor unions (led by Walter Reuther), major religious denominations, and prominent white Democratic Party politicians such as Hubert Humphrey and Lyndon B. Johnson.
  • Brown vs. Topeka – Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka was a landmark United States Supreme Court case in which the Court declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students to be unconstitutional. The decision overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896, which allowed state-sponsored segregation, insofar as it applied to public education. Handed down on May 17, 1954, the Warren Court’s unanimous (9–0) decision stated that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” This ruling paved the way for integration and was a major victory of the Civil Rights Movement. However, the decision’s fourteen pages did not spell out any sort of method for ending racial segregation in schools, and the Court’s second decision in Brown II only ordered states to desegregate “with all deliberate speed”.
  • Little Rock Nine – The Little Rock Nine was a group of nine African American students enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957. Their enrollment was followed by the Little Rock Crisis, in which the students were initially prevented from entering the racially segregated school by Orval Faubus, the Governor of Arkansas. They then attended after the intervention of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.The U.S. Supreme Court issued its historic Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, 347 U.S. 483, on May 17, 1954. Tied to the 14th Amendment, the decision declared all laws establishing segregated schools to be unconstitutional, and it called for the desegregation of all schools throughout the nation. After the decision, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) attempted to register black students in previously all-white schools in cities throughout the South. In Little Rock, Arkansas, the school board agreed to comply with the high court’s ruling. Virgil Blossom, the Superintendent of Schools, submitted a plan of gradual integration to the school board on May 24, 1955, which the board unanimously approved. The plan would be implemented during the fall of the 1957 school year, which would begin in September 1957.
  • The role of Rosa Parks – Rosa Parks was a political activist and a black woman. One day she refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white man, a long standing tradition in the south, which triggered huge chain of events that ultimately helped start the civil rights movement. After she was arrested for not giving up the seat a boycott of black people riding buses in Montgommery, Alabama ensued, that lasted for a year and inspired many to rise up and demand equal rights.One of them was Martin Luther King.
  • NAACP, Jim Crow and disenfranchisemen – The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is an African-American civil rights organization in the United States, formed in 1909 by Moorfield Storey, Mary White Ovington and W. E. B. Du Bois. Its mission is “to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination”. The group enlarged its mission in the late 20th century by considering such as police misconduct, the status of black foreign refugees, and questions of economic development. Its name, retained in accordance with tradition, uses the once common term colored people. The NAACP bestows annual awards to African Americans in two categories: Image Awards are for achievement in the arts and entertainment, and the Spingarn Medals are for outstanding positive achievement of any kind, frequently political. Its headquarters are now located in Baltimore, Maryland. Disenfranchisement after the Reconstruction Era in the United States of America 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. Their actions were designed to frustrate the objective of the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1870, which sought to protect the suffrage of freedmen after the American Civil War.
  • March of Washington, The role of Martin Luther King – The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the March on Washington, or The Great March on Washington, was held in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, August 28, 1963. The purpose of the march was to advocate for the civil and economic rights of African Americans. On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat.The Montgomery Bus Boycott, led by King, soon followed. The boycott lasted for 385 days, and the situation became so tense that King’s house was bombed. King was arrested during this campaign, which concluded with a United States District Court ruling in Browder v. Gayle that ended racial segregation on all Montgomery public buses. King’s role in the bus boycott transformed him into a national figure and the best-known spokesman of the civil rights movement.Among many efforts, King headed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Through his activism, he played a pivotal role in ending the legal segregation of African-American citizens in the South and other areas of the nation, as well as the creation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. King received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, among several other honors. King was assassinated in April 1968, and continues to be remembered as one of the most lauded African-American leaders in history, often referenced by his 1963 speech, “I Have a Dream.”
  • Loving vs Virginia case – Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967), was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court which struck down all state laws banning interracial marriage as violations of the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The case was brought by Mildred Loving (née Jeter), a woman of color, and Richard Loving, a white man, who had been sentenced to a year in prison in Virginia for marrying each other. Their marriage violated Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which criminalized marriage between people classified as “white” and people classified as “colored”.
  • Civil Rights Act of 1964, Voting Rights Act of 1965 – The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a landmark civil rights and labor law in the United States that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It prohibits unequal application of voter registration requirements, and racial segregation in schools, employment, and public accommodations. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a landmark piece of federal legislation in the United States that prohibits racial discrimination in voting. It was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson during the height of the civil rights movement on August 6, 1965, and Congress later amended the Act five times to expand its protections. Designed to enforce the voting rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, the Act secured the right to vote for racial minorities throughout the country, especially in the South. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Act is considered to be the most effective piece of federal civil rights legislation ever enacted in the country.
  • Black Power movement, Black Panther Party – The Black Power movement emphasized racial pride, economic empowerment, and the creation of political and cultural institutions for African-American people in the United States.The movement grew out of the Civil rights movement, as black activists experimented with forms of self-advocacy ranging from political lobbying to armed struggle. The Black Power movement served as a focal point for the view that reformist and pacifist elements of the Civil Rights Movement were not effective in changing race relations. The 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.

Visual

This picture depicts Martin Luther King Jr. after his speech during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in August, 1963. His speech, known as, “I Have a Dream” – became one of the most famous and influential speeches of all time. It was a cornerstone to the end of racial segregation in civil and economic rights. Although racism is something that we can never be rid of, this man did his part to make every black person’s lives easier and give them a chance to make something of their lives and rise through the ranks. King and his speech are more than relevant today because racism has gone nowhere but we can thank him, for his influence on trying to end racism; then, today and in the future.

Critical response

When “The Help” was released in 2011, the opinions on the movie divided people. The film took regular viewers by storm and the movie was a massive hit in the box office and everyone loved it. But some critics and historians however had slightly different opinions.
Many reviewers were enraged by the incredibly ‘positive’ view of the filmmakers on the era and how the the era was portrayed. Quoting Dahlia Grossman-Heinze’ review for Generation Progress: “A number of critics say the film ignores the context of racism, violence, and murder that surrounded the Civil Rights Movement in favor of telling a more positive story about the pretend impact of a book that was never actually written.” Although, I did not think of it while watching the movie, I can’t help but agree with her. The portrayal of that era in the movie is nothing in comparison to the reality of that era. In an interview for NPR, Octavia Spencer who played Minnie states her opinion on the topic: “To me, it’s more a movie about relationships, how these white women relate with each other and then how they relate to the women … who work in their homes.”
In a statement, made by the Association of Black Women Historians (ABWH) they also dispute the historical accuracy of the movie which also lines up with the opinions of a number of critics: “Despite efforts to market the book and the film as a progressive story of triumph over racial injustice, The Help distorts, ignores, and trivializes the experiences of black domestic workers. We are specifically concerned about the representations of black life and the lack of attention given to sexual harassment and civil rights activism.”
It all comes down to opinion in the end and how the movie was portrayed to be, whether it was meant to show the Civil Rights Era or just to show relationships between black maids.

Dahlia Grossman-Heinze, Generation Progress – https://genprogress.org/review-the-help-trades-historical-accuracy-for-a-cheery-story/
Octavia Spencer interview, NPR – https://www.npr.org/2011/08/12/139578287/octavia-spencer-you-cant-help-but-feel-this-film
Statement by the Association of Black Women Historians – http://truth.abwh.org/2011/08/12/an-open-statement-to-the-fans-of-the-help/

The Help

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.

Help(Kaia)

Notions

Civil Rights Movements

The civil rights movement was a struggle for social justice that took place mainly during the 1950s and 1960s for blacks to gain equal rights under the law in the United States. The Civil War had officially abolished slavery, but it didn’t end discrimination against blacks—they continued to endure the devastating effects of racism, especially in the South. The movement was mostly nonviolent and resulted in laws to protect every American’s constitutional rights, regardless of colour, race, sex or national origin.

Brown vs. Topeka

It was a 1954 Supreme Court decision that declared segregated schools to be “inherently unequal.”

In 1876, Kansas required that all of its public schools be open to all students, regardless of their race. Just three years later, however, the legislature backed away from its enlightened approach to racial issues and authorized school boards in cities of over 15,000 persons to establish separate black and white schools for elementary and junior high students. Topeka operated twenty-two elementary schools at the time the Brown suit was filed in 1951. In many cases, black students were forced by the policy of segregation to attend a designated black school far from their homes when a much closer elementary school, open only to whites, was nearby.

On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. The Court held that “in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place.” Within three years of the Supreme Court’s decision, integration of Topeka’s schools was complete.

Little Rock Nine

The Little Rock Nine were a group of nine black students who enrolled at formerly all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in September 1957. The children were carefully picked. Their attendance at the school was a test of Brown v. Board of Education. They were also the first blacks to attend high school.

On September 2, 1957, Governor Orval Faubus announced that he would call in the Arkansas National Guard to prevent the African-American students’ entry to Central High, claiming this action was for the students’ own protection. Faubus insisted that violence and bloodshed might break out if black students were allowed to enter the school.

Several of the Little Rock Nine went on to distinguished careers.

The role of Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks was a political activist and a black woman. One day she refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white man, a long-standing tradition in the south, which triggered a huge chain of events that ultimately helped start the civil rights movement. After she was arrested for not giving up the seat a boycott of black people riding buses in Montgomery, Alabama ensued, that lasted for a year and inspired many to rise up and demand equal rights. One of them was Martin Luther King.

NAACP, Jim Crow and disenfranchisement

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is an African-American civil rights organization in the United States, formed in 1909. Its mission is “to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination”. Its name, retained in accordance with tradition, uses the once common term coloured people. The NAACP bestows annual awards to African Americans in two categories: Image Awards are for achievement in the arts and entertainment, and the Spingarn Medals are for outstanding positive achievement of any kind, frequently political. Its headquarters are now located in Baltimore, Maryland and over half a million members.

Disenfranchisement after the Reconstruction Era in the United States of America 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. Their actions were designed to frustrate the objective of the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1870, which sought to protect the suffrage of freedmen after the American Civil War.

March of Washington, The role of Martin Luther King

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the March on Washington, or The Great March on Washington, was held in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, August 28, 1963. The purpose of the march was to advocate for the civil and economic rights of African Americans.

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat. The Montgomery Bus Boycott, led by King, soon followed. The boycott lasted for 385 days, and the situation became so tense that King’s house was bombed. King was arrested during this campaign, which concluded with a United States District Court ruling in Browder v. Gayle that ended racial segregation on all Montgomery public buses. King’s role in the bus boycott transformed him into a national figure and the best-known spokesman of the civil rights movement. Among many efforts, King headed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Through his activism, he played a pivotal role in ending the legal segregation of African-American citizens in the South and other areas of the nation, as well as the creation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. King received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, among several other honours. King was assassinated in April 1968, and continues to be remembered as one of the most lauded African-American leaders in history, often referenced by his 1963 speech, “I Have a Dream.”

Loving vs Virginia case

Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967), was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court which struck down all state laws banning interracial marriage as violations of the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The case was brought by Mildred Loving (née Jeter), a woman of colour, and Richard Loving, a white man, who had been sentenced to a year in prison in Virginia for marrying each other. Their marriage violated Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which criminalized marriage between people classified as “white” and people classified as “coloured”.

Civil Rights Act of 1964, Voting Rights Act of 1965

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a landmark civil rights and labour law in the United States that outlawed discrimination based on race, colour, religion, sex, or national origin. It prohibits the labour application of voter registration requirements, and racial segregation in schools, employment, and public accommodations.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a landmark piece of federal legislation in the United States that prohibits racial discrimination in voting. It was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson during the height of the civil rights movement on August 6, 1965, and Congress later amended the Act five times to expand its protections. Designed to enforce the voting rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, the Act secured the right to vote for racial minorities throughout the country, especially in the South. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Act is considered to be the most effective piece of federal civil rights legislation ever enacted in the country.

Black Power movement, Black Panther Party

The Black Power movement emphasized racial pride, economic empowerment, and the creation of political and cultural institutions for African-American people in the United States. The movement grew out of the Civil rights movement, as black activists experimented with forms of self-advocacy ranging from political lobbying to armed struggle. The Black Power movement served as a focal point for the view that reformist and pacifist elements of the Civil Rights Movement were not effective in changing race relations.

The 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 to challenge police brutality against the African American community.

Discussion

Gender role differences? What were the strengths and limitations of being a woman? To elaborate on the subject, why was Stuart (skeeter’s bf) so upset with Skeeter?

A: probably cos of the book cos he was a racist. He only thought of how this would affect him and didn’t want to be left out of the rich community.-> “U a selfish woman Skeeter,” – What does this tell us about his intelligence/ability to see the bigger picture,  elucidate us the irony.

What role does a man play in each family->how do the women react to those roles; are they satisfied, furious etc?

A: In most families, the man is the one earning the money, the white women seem to be pretty satisfied with sitting around the house all day and hosting parties. In Minny’s case, the man is abusive and dictating. It makes her angry and scared but she’s dependent on him, so she can’t leave. Skeeter, on the other hand, doesn’t really want to get married and is very independent, speaks bluntly what’s in her mind.

What details did you notice that the filmmakers had given to African-Americans’ everyday lives?

A: They had to ride a separate bus to white families. They were not allowed to talk to white people. They had work on top of work. Constantly disrespected.

What were some of the things that black people/the maids were not allowed to do, compared to whites, that were shown in the movie? Why?

A: Use the same toilet, eat at the same table, talk to them informally, talk back, be interviewed, use the same books as a white person at school, ride on the bus at the same part. The white people thought of them as dirty and for that reason didn’t want to use the same items. They also felt superior and thought they could act however they want and have power over these people.

What do you think Hilly meant in the scene where she does not want to use the bathroom she thinks Aib had used and when Skeeter tries to make fun of the situation, Hilly says: “You shouldn’t joke about the coloured situation, I do whatever it takes to protect our children.” ->Describe the irony here.

A: the women made very little effort to even deal with their children and it was all done by black maids.

Aibileen kept repeating to the child she took care of “You is kind, you is smart, you is important”, why do you think was it so accentuated/ why was it so pronounced in the movie?

A: She probably wanted the child to grow up kind and not racist like the women at that time, also she knew that her own mother wasn’t giving her any love but Aibileen loved all those children like her own. It might have been so pronounced to show that despite the rudeness of the white women and how much they hated them, the maids still cared for the children like their own and loved them.

Visual

For my visual, I have chosen a quite gruesome picture. It depicts Theatrice Bailey, brother of the Lorraine Motel’s owner scraping the blood of Marthin Luther King Jr off the balcony after his assassination. I chose it because the whole movement was quite bloody and violent and pictures like this show how bad it actually was. These people risked and lost their lives because they believed they deserve equal rights. They spoke up and in return were killed or beaten. These pictures will remain forever to show how unfair humanity has been (and sometimes still is to this day) and the mistakes we should never repeat. I believe we should be ashamed of ourselves for the harm we have caused to these innocent people. And equality should’ve been possible to achieve without such violence.

Review

The movie, “The Help”, for what it was, is quite historically accurate. It does only show the maids part of the inequality of races but it still gives a good idea of how they were treated.
To me, this movie is less about the ugliness of the era than an optimistic tale about the ability of people, surrounded by hatred, to love one another. It definitely doesn’t show the full cruelty of the era and seems more like an American fairytale. In that sense, it is lacking in my eyes, I wouldn’t call it a history movie for that reason. I find it a bit too fairytale like.
How the maids were treated was definitely accurate. They were forbidden a lot of things and treated like trash. I find it utterly ironical although how the white women were afraid of getting diseases from the maids by using the same toilet but they had no problem with them raising their children.

“The Help is essentially a soap opera, but one that features some impeccable acting and evidences a social conscience.”

(http://www.reelviews.net/reelviews/help-the)

were the thoughts of one critic. I also think the movie is less about showing the people nowadays about the inequality of the races but more about making fun of the way of living and rude methods used back then. The actions of the whites are ridiculed in the movie and made fun of. This does make the issue seem less real and cruel but at least shows that we, as a humanity, can move on.
One other flaw I found with the movie was how they used stereotypes for the characters rather than making them seem like actual people. The characters are either, good but have suffered for long, black women and whites who support them or incredibly evil white women. This was although saved by the great acting. The actors of Minny and Skeeter are some of my all-time favourites.

“Never have I watched a movie where you cry and laugh at the same time.”

(https://www.metacritic.com/movie/the-help – by busbfran)

This movie is definitely very moving and gripping, you are bound to be emotional. For me personally, when I started watching it, I didn’t want to stop. So having to stop and continue in the next lesson was quite upsetting. You couldn’t help but wonder what was going to happen next. And after the movie, you’re just speechless.
To summarise, the movie was very well made with amazing actors but I would’ve liked seeing a bit more history and less comedy show.

“The Help” (by Ott)

Notions

Civil Rights Movements

Civil Rights Movements were struggles for social justice throughout the 1950s and 1960s for blacks to gain equal rights under the law of the United States. Slavery was abolished long ago but this didn’t stop the continuing discrimination against black people. The whites couldn’t quite accept that the people that had been slaves just some years ago had now risen to almost the same level in the society as they. The blacks suffered from severe racism, especially in the South. In addition, there was more than enough prejudice and violence against blacks. So, they formed various groups and started peaceful nonviolent campaigns, protests and social movements to accomplish their goals. Some of the main activists were, for example, A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin and Martin Luther King Jr.

The main problems were racism, racial segregation, lack of rights to vote (disenfranchisement) and overall discrimination.

In the end, they achieved recognition and protection under federal laws. The important pieces of recognition were, for example, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which will be talked about later.

Brown vs. Topeka

Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka was a 1954 supreme court case that served as one of the cornerstones for the civil rights movements. This case proved that the “separate-but-equal” education and other such services were, in fact, not equal at all. As a result, the supreme court decided that the segregation of children in public school was unconstitutional. Before that, in a court case in 1896 the Supreme Court decided that racially segregated facilities are legal as long as the facilities for both blacks and whites are equal. The origin of the new case was that a black man named Oliver Brown sued the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, in 1951 for not letting her daughter attend an all-white school. He said it’s a violation of the 14th Amendment (no state can “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”) and the so-called “equal protection clause”. The schools weren’t equal because, for example, Linda (the daughter) had a much longer distance to the school and also the government spent more money on white education: 38 dollars on a white kid and 13 on a black one. Problems of inequality may have arisen because of the fact that the schools were demanded to enforce the “separate-but-equal” policy but they were never really told how to do it or why.

Little Rock Nine

The Little Rock Nine was the nickname of a group of 9 all-black high school students who volunteered to attend a previously segregated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957. Central High School themselves asked for students from the all-black school to attend their school. The Little Rock Nine were not welcomed there. They were met with an Arkansas National Guard (sent by the governor of Arkansas) and a threatening mob. The Little Rock Nine returned a few weeks later and made it inside only to be met with violence. They had to be removed once again for safety reasons. In the end, President Eisenhower personally intervened and ordered federal troops to escort the Little Rock Nine to and from the classes. Despite that, the 9 students still suffered a lot of prejudice and discrimination.

This case brought much-needed attention to the desegregation and fueled protests on the issue. In the end, Martin Luther King Jr himself even attended one boy’s graduation who was also apart of the Little Rock Nine.

The role of Rosa Parks

On December 1, 1955, a 42-year-old woman named Rosa Parks arrived from work and went on a Montgomery, Arkansas bus. She sat on a seat that was designated for the blacks in the back of the bus as according to the segregation laws. Then a white man arrived on the bus who couldn’t find himself a seat in the white section. The bus driver instructed Rosa Parks and a few other blacks to give up their seat. Rosa Parks refused and was arrested. She later explained why she didn’t give up the seat: “People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.” What followed, was incredible. Rosa Park became the “mother of the modern-day civil rights movement”. The black community formed the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) which was led by Baptist minister Martin Luther King Jr. This role later placed him in the centre of the civil rights movement. MIA then organized a boycott against the Montgomery bus system which lasted for 381 days. On November 14, 1956, the Supreme Court decided that the system of segregated seating was unconstitutional.

NAACP, Jim Crow and disenfranchisement

NAACP is the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. It’s the oldest and biggest American civil rights organization. It was founded back in 1909 by white and black activists with the goal of advancing justice for African Americans. The organization played a vital role in the civil rights movement achieving many legal wins. The Brown vs. Topeka case in 1954 was one of them. They helped to organize the March on Washington (the next notion). During this era, they also successfully lobbied for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The NAACP received some criticism due to them trying to work through the judicial system to achieve their goals while other organizations preferred a more direct strategy of protest. The NAACP also at the same time suffered under harassment and violence. In 1962, Medgar Evers, the first NAACP field secretary in Mississippi, was assassinated outside his home in Jackson by a white supremacist.

Their purpose in a direct quote: “To ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.”

The main founders of the NAACP were Moorfield Storey, Mary White Ovington and W.E.B. Du Bois (and others).

During the reconstruction of the South, many African Americans took leadership roles like never before. They achieved many rights with the 14th Amendment in 1868 (equal protection of the law) and the 15th Amendment in 1870 (the right to vote). Many whites were unhappy that the blacks who had just been their slaves were now more or less equal with the whites. To erase this progress of gaining many rights during the reconstruction, Jim Crow laws were enforced in the Southern states. This meant that blacks couldn’t use the same public facilities as whites. They couldn’t marry a white person, attend the same schools or sometimes even live in the same towns as whites. Many couldn’t vote because they couldn’t pass the voter literacy tests. The segregation laws gained even more ground with the Supreme Court decision in 1896 in the Plessy vs. Ferguson case when the “separate-but-equal” policy was introduced. Despite the laws not being introduced in the Northern states, African Americans suffered also there under vast discrimination at their workplace or while trying to buy a house or while trying to get an education. Some Northern states even limited the rights to vote. The name “Jim Crow” came from the main character of an act who had the same name. The character was a caricature of a clumsy, dimwitted black slave. The act itself was inspired by an insulting tune called “Jump Jim Crow”.

Disenfranchisement was the cancellation of the rights to vote.

March on Washington, the role of Martin Luther King

March on Washington was one of the most remarkable events in the civil rights movement. About 250 000 black and white people protested peacefully in Washington demanding job equality for everyone and civil rights legislation. The protest was organized by civil rights movement leaders like A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin and Martin Luther King Jr. The highlight of the event was King’s speech in which he continually stated: “I have a dream…” The speech soon became a slogan for equality and freedom. The speech was supposed to be 4 minutes but turned out to last for 16 minutes. Luther agreed to speak last though, at this time, it was more beneficial to speak earlier as later the crowd would be gone.

Loving vs Virginia case

Loving vs Virginia case was a Supreme Court case from 1963 to 1967 which, in the end, decided that the banning of interracial marriage was unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment. The origin was that Richard and Mildred Loving were a white man and a black woman who wanted to get married but their marriage was deemed illegal according to the Virginia state laws.

This decision is often considered to be the watershed moment or the historic moment in dismantling the Jim Crow laws. Richard Loving died in a car crash in 1975. Mildred Loving was also in the car crash but survived and died in 2008. She never remarried.

Civil Rights Act of 1964, Voting Rights Act of 1965

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was an act initiated by John F. Kennedy before his death and signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 2, 1965. The signing was witnessed by some civil rights activists, including King.

– Banned discrimination based on race, colour, religion, sex or national origin in employment practises (equal employment for all),- limited the use of voter literacy tests,
– allowed federal authorities to ensure public facilities were integrated.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was an act also signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson. By signing this act, he took the previous one even further.

– Banned all voter literacy tests,
– provided federal examiners in certain voting jurisdictions,
– as a result, led to the decision of declaring poll taxes to be unconstitutional. (Poll taxes were initially introduced to keep the African Americans from voting.)

Black Power movement, Black Panther Party

The Black Power movement was a political and social movement in the 1960s and 1970s. The movement believed in racial pride, self-sufficiency, and equality for all people of Black and African descent. They also demanded the creation of political and cultural institutions for African-American people. The movement grew out of the civil rights movement. They tried to create a change that the previous movement wasn’t able to achieve. Many of the leaders were killed at the peak of the movement’s success (the 1970s) which prompted many members to abandon the movement.

The Black Panther Party was a political organization founded in Oakland, California, by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale in 1966 to challenge police brutality against the African American community. The party organized armed civilian patrols in Oakland and other US cities. The organization slowly declined due to internal tensions, deadly shootouts and FBI counterintelligence. Patrols were created to decrease the racist discrimination.

Visual

Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr (born Martin King Jr.) (15.01.1929 – 04.04.1968) was one of the main activists of the civil rights movement. He was also an American Baptist minister. Martin Luther King Jr. was mainly known for advancing civil rights through nonviolence and civil disobedience. Some of his achievements:

  • leader of the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott
  • in 1957 became the first president of the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference)
  • co-organiser of the 1963 March on Washington
  • famous speech “I Have A Dream”
  • won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964
  • in 1965 the co-organiser of the Selma to Montgomery marches

Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968, by James Earl Ray (who was sentenced to 99 years in prison) while planning a national occupation of Washington to be called the Poor People’s Campaign. Many riots followed King’s death. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. Some states established Martin Luther King Jr. Day. In 2011, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial was also dedicated.

I chose Martin Luther King’s picture and decided to talk a little bit more about him because he was one of the key figures featured in the leadership of the Civil Rights Movement.

Essay

A Thought-Provoking Civil Rights Tale

“The Help” is a 2011 American film. The length of the film is 2 hours and 26 minutes. “The Help” features Emma Stone playing the main character named Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan who is in search of finding out the truth about the life of black maids in white households. The film is set in Jackson, Mississippi and depicts the Jim Crow law days in the 1960s. The film has received one Oscar for the Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Octavia Spencer as Minny Jackson.

The overall response to the film is positive. The critics praise its level of acting, story and directing. One review describes the film like this: “It sparks discussion, teaches a history lesson, and makes everyone think about how we treat others.” (Chen, 2011) The ending has received some criticism “as the film ends it is still Jackson, Mississippi and Ross Barnett is still governor.” (Ebert, 2011) There are also some extremely critical reviews. One of them says that “this movie aspires to make you feel good. And it failed.” The only positive thing about this film is depicting good black actors. The same review has also brought out some historical inaccuracies, for example, taking on segregation like a sidebar and not showing the full extent of the assassination of Evers. The reviewer goes on to accuse the film in making us laugh over racism and making it look funny, though racism is still a massive problem in nowadays world. (Francois, 2011)

This film for me, personally, had a very emotional effect. There were times when I laughed and times when I felt how I am going to cry in a second. For the first time, while taking notes, I also wrote down my feelings and opinions while watching the film. So, I was cheering for Skeeter to find out the truth and wishing the other racist housewives to get absolutely intimidated because of their cruelty towards the maids. Eventually, Minny did intimidate her previous employer (Hilly Holbrook) with her “special pie” which, in my opinion, was the best and funniest scene in the movie, a true moment of revenge.

In the end, “The Help” has received an overall positive reception. There are many pros, for example, the story, acting and directing, but there are also some cons, for example, the ending and some historical inaccuracies. IMDb has given the film a high rating of 8.1 out of 10. I, personally, agree with this rating as I was deeply touched by this film.

Sources

1. Chen, S. A. (2011). ‘The Help’, common sense media. Available at: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/movie-reviews/the-help (Accessed: 01.06.2019).

2. Ebert, R. (2011). ‘The Help’, Roger Ebert. Available at: https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-help-2011 (Accessed: 01.06.2019).

3. Francois, D. J. (2011). ‘Film Review: How The Help Failed Us’, HuffPost. Available at: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-help-film-review_b_926798 (Accessed: 01.06.2019).

The Help – Isabel

Review

The fifth movie we watched was called ‘’The Help’’. The movie is actually based on a novel (written by K. Stockett in 2009) and its scenery took place during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. The film reached a critical and commercial success worldwide, and has received quite positive reviews throughtout the past years.

‘’It seems to me that, if The Help is (as it seems) an accurate depiction of the segregated South of post-WWII America, these contradictions and the sub-text of sublimated racial tensions, must have been absolutely exhausting for both sides of the colour line.‘’

http://www.historyplace.com/specials/reviews/the-help.htm

When comparing the historical side of this movie to the actual facts written  on paper, it is seen that many connections can be drawn and some scenes in this movie can be linked to actual events that happened in human history. When doing research on this movie, I found many subtopics that the writers might have taken inspiration from. Starting with segregation, the problem of racial discrimination was clearly brought out in some scenes of this movie. The scenes with the toilets in the movie symbolize everything that’s wrong with society when it comes to civil rights. People were afraid they would get diseases from the black people if they used the same toilets and therefore created separate bathrooms for the colored people. There was also a scene where Aibilee mentioned that her cousin’s car was set on fire when he went to the voting station, showing the discreet norms that were set during the civil rights era.

‘’Aibileen manages to keep it genuine as she creates a bond with one of the children she cares for telling her ‘you is kind, you is smart, you is important’ this was an important relationship in the film because it educates the audience about the emotional bond that developed between maids and those that they cared for.’’

https://www.imdb.com/review/rw2713199/?ref_=tt_urv

I can totally agree with this argument. Despite her seemingly difficult and discriminated situation, Aibileen still managed to show affection towards the child she was taking care of. The bond between Aibileen and Mae was incredibly portrayed in the last scenes of the movie, when Aibileen was fired for being accused of stealing silverware from the family’s house. As Aiblieen was about to leave, she asked Mae to repeat the phrase once more, telling her to continue living her life according to the morals she taught her. 

There was one scene in this movie that I found particularly thought provoking. It was the scene where Aibileen tells Mae Mobley a ‘’Secret’’ stroy in which she alludes to Martin Luther King Jr, promoting equality for black and whites. The script goes like this:

  • ’’One day, a wise Martian come down to Earth to teach us people a thing or two, ‘I say.” 
  • ‘’Martian? How big?’’
  • ” ‘Oh, he about six-two.’’
  • ” ‘What’s his name?’’ 
  • ” ‘Martian Luther King.’…  ‘He was a real nice Martian, Mister King. Looked just like us, nose, mouth, hair up on his head, but sometime people looked at him funny and sometime, well, I guess sometime people was just downright mean.’…
  • ” ‘Why Aibee? Why was they so mean to him?” she ask. 
  • ” ‘Cause he was green’ “ 

With that story, Aibileen tries to explain that everyone deserves to be treated fairly and not judged by the color of their skin. This message was a major part of MLK Jr’s platform for racial equality.

Visual

For my visual representation of this time period, I chose a picture that portrays racial segregation during the civil rights era. In the picture above we can see two wash basins, both of them labelled according to which race it’s meant for. The root cause of this situatuon were the Jim Crow Laws, that were local laws that enforced the segregation in the Southern states. The laws stated that black and white people had to attend different schools, restaurants, bathrooms, and made sure blacks were discriminated when using public services. In 1896, the Congress stated segregation to be legal as long as both of the races were treated equally, but there was a stark difference between the facilities and accommodations meant for black and white people. The sergregation affected black people by preventing them from using various facilities, lowering their chance of job opportunities and raising the risk of disease and poverty.

Notions

Civil Rights Movement

The Civil rights movement was a struggle for social justice that took place mainly during the 1950s and 1960s. It’s main goal was for blacks to gain equal rights under the law in the US. The Civil War had officially abolished slavery, but it didn’t end discrimination against blacks. 

It invloved a diversity of approaches, from bringing lawsuits in court, to lobbying the federal government, to mass direct action, to black power.

The efforts of civil rights activists resulted in many substantial victories, but also met with the fierce opposition of white supremacists.

WWII

Before ww2, most blacks were farmers or factory workers. By the early 1940s, most black still weren’t getting better paying jobs.

Thousands of blacks threatened to march on Washington to ask for equal employment rights. President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802, that opened national defense and goverment jobs to All Americans regardless of race.

Bloody Sunday

March 7, 1965 – 600 people participated in a march from Selma to Montgomery to protest the killing of a black civil rights activist by a white police officer.

As they neared to Edmund Pettus Bridge, they were blocked by Alabama state police. Protestors refused to stand back and were beaten and teargassed by police, dozens of protestors were hospitalized.The entire incident was televised and became known as Bloody Sunday.

Linda Brown, a third grader, was required by law to attend a school for black children in her hometown of Topeka, Kansas. To do that, she had to walk six blocks, crossing dangerous railroad tracks to board a bus that took her to her school. Yet, only 7 blocks away was sa school attended by white children. Her father Oliver Brown encouraged a lawsuit against the Topeka school district.

By the time the Brown’s case made it to the US Supreme Court in 1954 it had been combined with four other similar school segregation cases into a single unified case.

  • Thurgood Marshall was the chief of NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People)
  • His team wanted the fact that students were being separated into different schools because of race declared unconstitutional. 
  • in Brown v. Board, Marshall and his colleagues found five cases through which they could work to achieve their goal.
  • Linda Brown’s case was particularly useful to Thurgood Marshall’s efforts because Monroe Elementary was not underfunded in comparison to Sumner Elementary. 
  • Marshall searched for help from psychologists, Kenneth and Mamie Clark, to argue that the very fact black and white children were sent to separate schools damaged the black children’s self-esteem, stigmatized them, and adversely shaped their self-image for the rest of their lives. 
  • Separate schools, Marshall argued, made plain to black children that they were deemed unworthy of being educated in the same classrooms as white children

Little Rock Nine

  • A group of nine black students who were the first African Americans to attend Central High School
  • In the weeks prior to the start of the new school year, the students participated in intensive counseling sessions guiding them on what to expect once classes began and how to respond to anticipated hostile situations.
  • They arrived for the first day of school on September 4, 1957. Eight arrived together, driven by Bates (from the NAACP)
  • Elizabeth Eckford’s family, however, did not have a telephone, and Bates could not reach her to let her know of the carpool plans. Therefore, Eckford arrived alone. 
  • The Arkansas National Guard prevented any of the Little Rock Nine from entering the doors of Central High
  • In the follwing weeks, federal Judge Ronald Davies ordered the Gueard to be removed.
  • Many of the white students protested, spat on them.
  • The next day, Eisenhower sent in 1200 members od the US Army’s 101st Airborne division to be in charge od the Guardsmen
  • The Little Rock Nine attended their first full day of classes on September 25
  • On May 25, 1958, Ernest Green, the only senior among the Little Rock Nine, became the first African-American graduate of Central High. – Martin Luther King jr attended his grad.

Rosa Parks

A 42-year-old woman named Rosa Parks sat on the bus to go home after work. (Segregation laws at the time stated that black must sit on the seats at the back of the bus.)

A white man got on the bus and couldn’t find a seat in the white section. The bus driver instructed Parks and three other blacks to give up their seats.( to add another row to the ‘’white’’) Parks refused and was arrested.

“People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired,” wrote Parks in her autobiography, “but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically… No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”

  • Her arrest ignited outrage and support and she became the ‘’mother of the modern civil rights movement’’
  • Another idea arose as well: The blacks of Montgomery would boycott the buses on the day of Parks’ trial
  • Participation was much larger then expected
  • Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) was formed to manage the boycott (Martin Luther King Jr – president)

NAACP, Jim Crow and disenfranchisement

NAACP

  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
  • Established in 1909 – America’s oldest and largest civil rights organization
  • Formed in NYC by white and black activists ( in response to the ongoing violence against African Americans around the country )
  • promised to champion equal rights and eliminate racial prejudice
  • to “advance the interest of colored citizens” in regard to voting rights
  • legal justice and educational and employment opportunities.
  • One of the organization’s key victories was the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 decision in Board of Education  that outlawed segregation in public schools.
  • Helped organize the 1930 March on Washington (1 of the biggest civil rights rallies in  US history)
  • During the final decades of the 20th century, the NAACP experienced financial difficulties and some members charged that the organization lacked direction.
  • Today, the NAACP is focused on such issues as inequality in jobs, education, health care and the criminal justice system, as well as protecting voting rights.

Jim Crow Laws

In 1868, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution gave blacks equal protection under the law. Two years later, the 15th Amendment granted blacks the right to vote. Still, many whites were unhappy that their former slaves were now on an equal playing field. To keep black separate from whites, ‘’Jim Crow’’ laws were established in the South:

  • blacks couldn’t use the same public facilities
  • Couldn’t live in the same towns/go to same schools
  • Interracial marriage was illegal
  • Most blacks weren’t able to vote
  • Black people had separate waiting rooms at bus stations

THESE LAWS WEREN’T ADOPTED IN THE NORTH

Disenfranchisement- depriving privileges

  • From 1890 to 1908, Southern states passed new laws that made voter registration and voting more difficult. This turn of events achieved the intended result of disenfranchising most of the black citizens, as well as many poor whites in the South.
  • The Democratic South gained aboit 25 seats in Congress for each decade between 1903 and 1953
  • they gained seniority privileges as well as leadership of the national Democratic Party.
  • because black Southerners were not listed on local voter rolls, they were automatically excluded from serving jury duty in local courts.
  • Disenfranchisement did not end until after passage of federal civil rights legislation in the mid-1960s, which included authority to monitor elections and enforce voting rights.

March on Washington

The March on Washington was a massive protest that took place in August 1963. 250 000 people gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. The event aimed to draw attention to inequalities faced by African Americans a century after emancipation.

In 1941, A. Philip Randolph planned a mass march on Washington to protest blacks’ exclusion from ww2 defense jobs

  • A day before the event, F. D. Roosevelt met with Randolph and agreed to issue an order forbidding discrimination.
  • In return, Randolph called off the march on Washington

In the Mid 1950s. Randolph planned another march  in 1957, hoping to capitalize on King’s appeal and harness the organizing power of the NAACP. There were many speakers in the march, includis King’s ‘’I have a dream’’ speech

King agreed to speak last, as all the other presenters wanted to speak earlier, figuring news crews would head out by mid-afternoon. Though his speech was scheduled to be four minutes long, he ended up speaking for 16 minutes, in what would become one of the most famous orations of the civil rights movement—and of human history.

Role of Martin Luther Kin g Jr.

  • social activist and Baptist minister
  • Sought equality and human rights for black people, economically disadvantaged and all victims of injustice through peaceful protest
  • Driving force behing Montgomery bus boycott and 1963 march on Washington
  • Was awarded the Nobel prize in 1964
  • Remembered each year on Martin Luther Jr. day (January 20- 2020)

Loving vs Viriginia case

  • Supreme Court case that struck down state laws banning interracial marriage in the United States. 
  • The central figures were Richard and Mildred Loving, a white man and black woman whose marriage was deemed illegal according to Virginia state law.
  • In June 1958, they got married in Washington DC (where interracial marriage was legal) and returned back to their hometown
  • Five weeks later, they were woken up at 2am and arrested by the local sheriff
  • They were sentenced to one year in prison, but judge Leon M Bazile suspended the sentence on the condition that they would leave Virginia and not return together for 25 years.
  • They were forced to leave Virignia and relocate to Washington
  • In 1963, Mildred wrote a letter to R.F. Kennedy asking for assistance
  • Agreed to take the case. They had 2 lawyers
  • During one exchange, Hirschkop stated that “These are not health and welfare laws,” he argued. “These are slavery laws, pure and simple.”

Civil rights act of 1964

  • signed by Lyndon B. Johnson
  • Ended segregation in public places 
  • Guaranteed equal employment for all
  • Limited to use of voter literacy tests
  • Allowed federal authorities to ensure public facilities were integrated
  • Forbade the use of federal funds for any discriminatory program

Voting rights act of 1965

  • signed by Lyndon B Johnson
  • Aimed to overcome legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented Blacks from having their right to vote
  • One of the most far-reaching pieces of civil rights legislation in U.S. history.

Black Power Movement

The Black Power Movement of the 1960s and 1970s was a political and social movement whose advocates believed in racial pride, self-sufficiency, and equality for all people of Black and African descent.

On June 1966, James Meredith, who was one of the first African Americans to attend university of Mississippi, was shot in an ambush as he tried to complete his peaceful march. Civil rights leaders rushed to her hospital bed and decided that his march must be completed.

At a mass rally, Carmichael uttered the simple statement: “What we need is black power.” Crowds chanted the phrase as a slogan, and a movement began to flower. Soon, African American students began to celebrate African American culture boldly and publicly. Colleges teemed with young blacks wearing traditional African colors and clothes.

The Black Panther Party

That same year, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale took Carmichael’s advice one step further. They formed the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California. Openly brandishing weapons, the Panthers decided to take control of their own neighborhoods to aid their communities and to resist police brutality. Soon the Panthers spread across the nation.




“The Help” by Annabel

Elizabeth Eckford trying to go to school
Link to the picture: https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/central-high-school-integration

To visualize the Civil Rights era, I chose this picture of one of the Little Rock Nine members named Elizabeth Eckford walking to school for the first time. It is one of the most famous pictures from that time and is often used in history textbooks. The girl with the angriest expression in the background is called Hazel Bryan and she immediately became a symbol of white hatred. As of now, Hazel has apologized for her behavior and for a while, she and Elizabeth became friends and went to speak in different schools about racism and their story but after some time Elizabeth still felt like Bryan was using the story to get fame and the two haven´t spoken since 2001. Nevertheless, Hazel is working with a lot of charities and organisations helping minorities as she realized that what she did in her youth is wrong and nobody should have to tolerate that. I found this picture and story to be really interesting and it shows how on stupid thing you did while being 15 years old can haunt you and your children for the rest of your life. Even though Hazel has apologized, the picture will never go away and will be brought up for a long time. It also demonstrates the situation in the south as there are other white girls looking down on Elizabeth and the crazy thing is, it was only a little over 60 years ago.

The Review

“The Help” was a good film, on of my favorites we have watched. It had a nice combination of comedy and seriousness to convey the reasoning behind the film. But it definitely was not a perfect film either and had its flaws. I am going to bring out and discuss over some aspects of “The Help”.

To begin with, lets look over the main point of the film:

The Help wants to be a film about white women and black women coming together to work against injustice. But ultimately it’s too small and too petty a story that is too removed from the real atrocities of the Jim Crow South to be anything other than a vehicle through which an rich, white woman profits from the retelling of the histories and experiences of black women.”

Link to the review: https://genprogress.org/review-the-help-trades-historical-accuracy-for-a-cheery-story/

I must agree with this statement, I also felt like the idea of the film was to give the maids a right to speak and get to hear their side of the story but after watching “The Help” it seemed to be about a young white girls story to her dream job. Of course we had the maids stories and saw into their lives but the main character was Skeeter and her struggles were depicted in half of the film that leaves the other half to ALL the maids. What really made it for me was the ending of the film. We are left off at a place where Skeeter got her dream job and a new wardrobe to go to New York. The maids are still the maids, Minny is now working as a maid for a white couple who is not as racist but she still cleans and cooks for them. Aibileen got fired at the end and even though she speaks about the fact that she will be a writer, we know nothing else about it. I can´t imagine that she quit and became a successful writer just like that. That for me really robbed away from the idea I could feel was behind “The Help”.

Secondly, I will go over the historic accuracy of the film:

“The ABWH released an open statement to all the fans of The Help, citing their specific concerns with the “representations of black life and the lack of attention given to sexual harassment and civil rights activism.” The ABWH concluded by saying that they find it “unacceptable for either this book or this film to strip black women’s lives of historical accuracy for the sake of entertainment.” […] In the end, this is entertainment and the performances of the actresses and efficacy of the film should merit discussion and attention. Also, the book and film is historical fiction, right? I don’t think the author of the book, or the filmmakers, went about trying to “strip black women’s lives of historical accuracy.” I think, instead, they set about to make a moving and emotionally stunning film, and they succeeded.”

Link to the review: https://wegotthiscovered.com/movies/controversy-legitimate/

I can see where the Association of Black Women Historians (ABWH) are coming from and as a matter of facts, the film did focus more on the characters than the civil rights activism. “The Help” had many little easter eggs hidden throughout the film about real historically accurate things that happened during that time, for example the black man that was shot when Aibileen was riding on the bus (it stopped, the black people were demanded off the bus and whites were given rides home by the police) wasn´t made up. The man was Medgar Evers, a civil rights activist who was shot in front of his house on the driveway while his wife and three children were inside. But we cannot forget that the main focus was never to make a documentary about the black maids and their lives. I agree with the writer of the review that at the end of the day it is a film and quite frankly it is historically accurate in a lot of aspects, the fact that they did not go into detail about every thing that happened during that time in the South States was not a problem for me while watching “The Help”.

To sum up, it was a well-made film with incredible actresses. I do think that maybe the maids could have had a bigger role than Emma Stones´ character Skeeter to convey the idea of “The Help” a bit better. All in all, I enjoyed watching it, there were scenes that were hilarious, ones were I almost cried and isn´t making the audience feel something the point of every film?

Links used for the review:
https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/medgar-evers
https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2018/09/viola-davis-the-help-regret

The Notions


Little Rock Nine
Picture source: Bettmann/Bettmann Archive
Rosa Parks
Picture source: Rosa Parks / Ida Berman / 1955 / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution / © Ida Berman
Martin Luther King Jr
Picture source: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The Help (Kask)

Visual depiction

Striking sanitation workers holding placards in Memphis, 1968. (1)

This visual depicts a protest of workers. To add, it depicts the sanitation workers’ strike in Memphis in 1968. At that time, nearly half of the population of Memphis was black. They endured horrible conditions in the sanitation department as well as little wages and inequality between the races. Eventually, after the death of a worker, over 1,000 workers refused to work. This event, later supported by Martin Luther King Jr., is a very large step in the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King Jr. supported the protest, but he was assassinated while in Memphis. This event also portrays the brutalities of the authorities, when the police tried to break off the strike with maces and bloody violence. The march paid off and eventually, workers’ unions were created to improve conditions. However, the racial gap is still visible, as workers do not receive sufficient payments to live through pension. The slogan of the protest, “I Am A Man”, was to become a rampant saying across the US.


Notions

The Civil Rights era

Civil Rights Movements

Civil rights movements began to gain popularity in the 20th century, especially in the 1950s and 60s. Its main goal was to grant equal rights to colored people, as slavery was abolished, but discrimination continued. Many other movements also were active during the period, such as women’s rights and giving Native Americans the same treatment as white people. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Women’s Suffrage were the two major movements, but there were plenty more. American Indian Movement, for example, had a goal of making people aware of the living conditions of the natives, especially after the Wounded Knee Incident, involving troops massacring Indians. Grey Liberation wanted to liberate the elderly from social discrimination. To add, the Chicano Movement focused on Mexicans and preventing racism against them. These movements were more active in the southern states, because people were less tolerant towards other races or ethnicities and laws made living even harder for black people than in the North. A Supreme Court ruling in 1896 declared that blacks’ and whites’ facilities would be ‘separate but equal’. This meant that white and black people would go to different schools, use different toilets and sit on a different section on a bus.

Brown vs. Topeka

The Supreme Court case between Oliver Brown and the Board of Education of Topeka in 1954 is considered to be a landmark achievement towards the Civil Rights Movement. Mr. Brown wanted to put her daughter Linda to a white elementary school, but he was rejected. In response, he sued the Board of Education of Topeka to court. His arguments were that the government spends more money on white kids (38$) than on black kids (13$) and that coloured schools do not give the same quality of education than white schools do. He argued, that the segregation was in direct conflict with the 14th Amendment, the ‘equal protection clause’. Other families also sued the school. The final verdict was that the principle ‘separate but equal’ is not valid in education and segregation in unconstitutional, however, it was not stated how should the integration process happen. Even today, the gap of schools is visible, as the local neighborhood supports a schools and eventually, richer neighborhoods have rich schools and poorer regions have poorer education.

Nettie Hunt and her daughter Nickie sitting in front of the Supreme Court after the decision. (2)

Little Rock Nine

The Little Rock Nine was a group of nine black students, who attended a formerly all-white high school in Little Rock, Arkansas. After the Supreme Court ruling, local governments were given power to start integrating schools and students together. The president of the Arkansas NAACP thoroughly selected 9 pupils, who would attend Central High School. However, governor Orval Faubus declared, that he would deploy the Arkansas National Guard to prevent black students entering the school. On September 4 1957 the Little Rock Nine went to school. Troops prevented the entry of the students. For many weeks students protested against integration and police officers had to escort the group to school. The Little Rock Nine had to endure physical and mental violence throughout their school year and only 1 of the 9 members of the group, Ernest Green, finished the school and received a diploma. Afterwards Faubus closed the schools and held a public vote, where most residents refused integration of schools. For their brave efforts towards the civil rights movement, the group received the Congressional Gold Medal.

Elizabeth Eckford walking to Little Rock Central High School in 1957. (3)

The role of Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks was a colored American, who got famous after an incident on a bus. In 1955 Rosa Parks rode a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. The bus was full and a white man turned towards Parks in the colored section to ask for a seat. Parks denied the request, which was against standards at that time, but she was not the first one to refuse a seat to a white person. Later, two officers arrested Parks, only to be released a day later. The trial against Rosa Parks ended with her having to pay 14$ in fines. The incident sparked another event, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, led by Reverend Martin Luther King jr, the elected President of the Montgomery Improvement Association. The boycott lasted for about a year and ended after the US Supreme Court ruled segregation on buses as unconstitutional. In 1999 Rosa Parks received the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest award to a civilian, for her actions and bravery, having lost her job and enduring harassment for a year. Later she earned the nickname ‘the mother of the civil rights movement’.

Rosa Parks arrested for refusing to give up her seat. (4)

NAACP, Jim Crow and disenfranchisement

The NAACP, or the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, is an organization against inequalities between blacks and whites. It was founded in 1909 and it is the oldest civil rights organization. The movement was one of the most influential movement in the 20th century. It organized both peaceful and violent protests against segregation and unequal rights to the coloured. The association organized famous events, like the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the March on Washington. These events led to pressuring the government to take action on segregation and in 1964, a year after the march, the government signed the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Act. Today, NAACP has approximately 500,000 members worldwide. The Jim Crow laws are a set of laws in the southern states, which allowed segregation. It stated, that there are to be different facilities for the colored and white people. It also prohibited interracial marriage and there were severe penalties for those, who tried to disobey them. Disenfranchisement means to take away basic rights from a community of people. For example, women were not allowed to vote.

The logo of NAACP. (5)

March on Washington, the role of Martin Luther King

The March on Washington was a massive protest in 1963 in the center of Washington D.C. Around 250,000 gathered near the Lincoln Memorial to listen the iconic speech from Martin Luther King, dubbed the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. Martin Luther King Jr. also arranged the Montgomery Bus Boycott and founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), devoted to bring equality to black people with peaceful protests. He delivered the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, which is mostly believed to be improvised. He played a huge factor towards the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Eventually, he was named “Man of the Year” and received the Nobel Peace prize, the youngest receiver of the trophy. He supported a sanitation workers’ strike in 1968 in Memphis, when he was assassinated.

Martin Luther King Jr. addressing the crown in Washington in 1963. (6)

Loving vs Virginia case

The Loving vs Virginia case marked the end of Jim Crow laws in 1963-1967. It was between Mildred and Richard Loving against the state of Virginia. In that state interracial marriage was illegal by law. A month after Richard and Mildred married in 1958, policemen arrested them and a judge sentenced them to a year in prison, replaced by leaving Virginia and not returning for the next 25 years. To help the couple, the American Civil Liberties Union agreed to help them. Again, the main argument of the plaintiff was the 14th Amendment, mentioning equal laws for everyone. The final ruling in 1967 claimed that the interracial marriage law is unconstitutional and with 16 US states, the ban was lifted.

Mildred and Richard Loving in 1965, before filing a suit. (7)

Civil Rights Act of 1964, Voting Rights Act of 1965

When President Kennedy came to power in 1961, he wanted to make anti-discrimination laws, but withdrew from them. A couple of years later in Birmingham, Alabama, many peaceful protesters were beaten up by the police. Kennedy decided to propose the act to Congress. His successor Lyndon Johnson followed the former president’s path and the act passed the House of Representatives and the Senate. The act proclaimed that segregation is prohibited in public rooms and no more can facilities differ people by race nor by religion. Soon after, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed, allowing African-American citizens to vote. These two acts are considered to be the most important achievements in legislation in US history.

President Johnson shaking hands with M. L. King while signing the Civil Rights Act. (8)

Black Power movement, Black Panther Party

The Black Power movement was an organization in the 1960s and 70s. It was a social and economical movement to create more institutions for black people in the US. It also supported equal rights towards them. The movement empowered blacks across the US, raising their self-identity and nonviolent behavior to solve problems. The Black Panther Party was a political association to counter against illegal brutality against African-Americans. It arranged armed patrols in cities and even the FBI tried to weaken their organization. Eventually, many Black Panthers were killed by police and the party dissolved in 1982.


Historical accuracy

The movie “The Help” describes the scenery of 1960s Mississippi, where black maids worked in affluent homes. During the period of Jim Crow laws, a young journalist named Skeeter interviews several maids to get another viewpoint towards the society and the hierarchy in the South. The program shows the progressive Civil Rights Movement just gaining speed and the segregated mindsets of rich society leaders. The film was released in 2011 and it illustrates the complications of communities in the southern states quite well. There are also some historical references shown in the program, which illustrate the situation of the region.

The background of the scenery is very accurate and the society at that time is illustrated quite well. The movie’s protagonists were African-American servants and maids, who had to live in the segregated state of Mississippi. Segregation and the principle of ‘separate, but equal’ remained on a high place. For example, maids could not use the same toilets as white people used and they had to sit on separate sections on a bus. This left the maids in a very dangerous situation, where if someone were to meet a white person, it would be very offensive towards whites and blacks. However, a critic mentions: “The maids who tell Skeeter their stories speak of the risks they are taking, but the sense of physical danger that hovered over the civil rights movement is mostly absent.”(1) I agree with this opinion and that the real threat of meeting a white journalist as a black maid was not fully covered.

The movie itself is based on a novel written by Kathryn Stockett, which was published in 2009. The plot was not changed with the cinematic version. While the book received ovations and praisals from delighted critics, the film angered the Association of Black Women Historians (ABWH), who criticised the movie’s stereotype of a maid. They had written: “The Help’s representation of these women is a disappointing resurrection of Mammy—a mythical stereotype of black women who were compelled, either by slavery or segregation, to serve white families.”(2) For me, the stereotype was rather apparent, as in the program many maids were willing and even wanted to go to serve other families. The truth is that the employment opportunities for black women were narrowed down due to segregation and racism. I felt that the film left the impression, that ‘the help’ wanted to go serve white families, as in reality, they often faced hard labour and low wages.

To conclude, ‘The Help’ gave a meticulous oversight of the situation in the South. It also depicted the segregated society, almost like a caste-system. However, the movie had difficulties portraying the obstacles of the servants. I think that even though it is entirely fictional, the show illustrates the era as truly as it can.

References

Visual sources

(1) Striking sanitation workers holding placards in Memphis, 1968. Source: daily.jstor.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/I_am_a_man_workers_strike_1050x700.jpg

(2) Nettie Hunt and her daughter Nickie sitting in front of the Supreme Court after the decision. Source: external-preview.redd.it/R5uAkM8n_KDrwbyUSHVeQkjt7Pz8FGh7R8a9HDOmElw.jpg?width=960&crop=smart&auto=webp&s=a971c9d7f9c636f57cd661021d3dfec15184fdad

(3) Elizabeth Eckford walking to Little Rock Central High School in 1957. Source: allthatsinteresting.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/elizabeth-ekford-hazel-bryan.jpg

(4) Rosa Parks arrested for refusing to give up her seat. Source: www.biography.com/.image/t_share/MTE4MDAzNDEwMzQyNzQxNTE4/image-title1.jpg

(5) The logo of NAACP. Source: upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/0/0f/NAACP_seal.svg/1200px-NAACP_seal.svg.png

(6) Martin Luther King Jr. addressing the crown in Washington in 1963. Source: imagesvc.timeincapp.com/v3/mm/image?url=https%3A%2F%2Ftimedotcom.files.wordpress.com%2F2017%2F01%2Fmlk.jpeg&w=800&c=sc&poi=face&q=85

(7) Mildred and Richard Loving in 1965, before filing a suit. Source: timedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/lovings.jpeg

(8) President Johnson shaking hands with M. L. King while signing the Civil Rights Act. Source: cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/hsh1cKXK2n-BB9lql4kygpA69dw=/0x115:2039×1644/920×613/filters:focal(0x115:2039×1644):format(webp)/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/35119362/2695533.0.jpg

Used reviews

(1) George, N. (2011) ‘Black-and-White Struggle With a Rosy Glow’, The New York Times, New York, August 9. Available at: www.nytimes.com/2011/08/14/movies/black-and-white-struggle-through-hollywoods-rosy-glow.html?_r=1 [Accessed 1.06.2019]

(2) (2012) ‘History and The Help’, Harvard University Press, 24 February. Available at:
harvardpress.typepad.com/hup_publicity/2012/02/history-and-the-help.html [Accessed 1.06.2019]