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The Help - Preface

The Help (Illustration) American History Fiction Ethics African American History Civil Rights Social Studies Film

During and after the years when chattel-slavery was legal in America, African-American women cared for white children in white homes.  This image, published in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper on 23 February 1867, depicts a black woman caring for a sick white child during the South's "Reconstruction Era."  Image online, courtesy Library of Congress.

 

Freedom has never been free.

Medgar Evers
 June 7, 1963

 

Trouble had started in Jackson, Mississippi long before Hilly Holbrook launched her "Home Help Sanitation Initiative."   Although both Hilly and her proposed law are fictional components of The Help, they could easily be real. 

Consider this.  When the "Civil Rights Bill" became law, in 1964, the owner of the Robert E. Lee Hotel - where key parts of The Help story take place - closed down his beautiful Jackson-based establishment just to keep-out black patrons. 

Flying a Confederate battle flag, Stewart Gammill, Jr. posted this sign:

CLOSED IN DESPAIR. 
CIVIL RIGHTS BILL UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

(Quoted in The Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission:
Civil Rights and States' Rights, by Yasuhiro Katagiri, page 168.)

Two days later he declared that henceforth the hotel would be a private club, open only to members.  Why would he do such a thing?

 

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5155stories and lessons created

Original Release: Aug 01, 2011

Updated Last Revision: Nov 09, 2016


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