Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Making a Difference, OR, Before The Help Was The Long Walk Home

The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, struck a chord with readers that continues to sound. Still on bestseller lists months after publication, The Help is the story of two African-American maids and a wealthy young white woman who bring change to Jackson, Mississippi in 1962, undertaking a risky project to illuminate the experiences of the community's African-American maids and the indignities of segregation.

An uplifting novel about "ordinary" people who make a difference in their community, The Help is similar in spirit and subject matter to the movie The Long Walk Home. Like The Help, The Long Walk Home features an African-American maid and a white woman working together to bring change to the segregated South. Set in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955, during Dr. King's Montgomery bus boycotts, The Long Walk Home's heroine is Odessa, played by Whoopi Goldberg, a maid, wife and mother who walks miles to work rather than break the bus boycott. She inspires not only her family, but the movie's secondary heroine, Odessa's employer Norma, played by Sissy Spacek, who ultimately defies her racist husband, providing rides to the bus boycotters. In the words of the narrator, Norma's daughter, now an adult reflecting on Odessa's influence: "There's always something extraordinary about someone who changes and then changes those around her."

An inspiring film with a strong, understated performance by Whoopi Goldberg, The Long Walk Home garnered little attention when it was released in 1990. But we're reviving it as a Suburban Mosaic program, and you can attend a screening and discussion of The Long Walk Home here at the library on Sunday, January 16th at 1:30 p.m. Founded in 2004, the Suburban Mosaic organization fosters cultural understanding through literature and other programming in suburban Cook and Lake counties. Its 2010-2011 Book of the Year for adults is The Help, which the Tuesday morning book group discussed in September.

You can register for the film and discussion at the 1st floor information desk or online.

And if you have a child between preschool and 2nd grade, you can bring your little one to our Drop-in Family Storytime on Monday, February 7th from 7 to 7:30 p.m. (No registration required.) This storytime, on the subject of caring, will include the Suburban Mosaic title for preschoolers through kindergarteners, How to Heal a Broken Wing. This picture book about a boy who cares for an injured bird with his mother and then frees it exemplifies the Mosaic's 2010-2011 theme, Making a Difference.

You're never too young (or old) to make a difference. Click here for more information about the Suburban Mosaic including the 2010-2011 titles.


Anonymous said...

I loved the movie The Long Walk Home. It's been many years since I've seen it, but I really enjoyed the performances by both Sissy Spacek and Whoopi Goldberg. How wonderful that it is going to be revived here at the library.

Laura A. said...

I'm glad someone else out there loves it, too. Like you, I was really impressed with Whoopi Goldberg and Sissy Spacek, especially Goldberg's ability to play a much more understated, reserved character. Not that I don't love over-the-top Whoopi--I loved her in Ghost--but I think this is one of her best performances, and it's a movie that's compelling and entertaining as well as educational.

Anonymous said...

Good point,the Long Walk Home is a better movie historically. However, Sissy Spacek's character was named Miriam, not Norma.

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