In 1955 Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man. The result of this and similar arrests, was the Montgomery Boycott, organized by Dr. Martin Luther King. The goal was to desegregate the bus system. During the boycott, African American men and women walked, formed carpools or in some cases, their white employers would take them to and from work. The boycott lasted a year before the court ruled that segregated buses were unconstitutional.
The Long Walk Home takes place in Montgomery during this time and follows a divided city and two families affected by the boycott. Whoopi Goldberg, Sissy Spacek, Dylan Baker and Ving Rhames star in the film.
Two years ago, The Help, another film about the Civil Rights movement, was celebrated at the Oscars. Octavia Spencer won Best Supporting Actress for her role as a maid working for a white family in Mississippi during the 60′s. Interesting to note, Spencer’s first film experience was as an intern on the set of The Long Walk Home, when she was 16 years old.
The Huffington Post wrote an article on The Help and The Long Walk Home, discussing the importance of these stories.
If the success of The Help helps Americans understand the terrible times of Jim Crow and legal segregation, whets their appetites to learn more about the civil rights movement, or simply sensitizes people to the psychological costs of bigotry and the importance of treating people with respect regardless of race, it will have served an important social purpose. But I hope that the triumphs of The Help at this year’s Academy Awards will also draw attention to The Long Walk Home, about African-American maids enduring similar indignities, that is both more compelling and more realistic.
More than any other Hollywood film about the civil rights years, The Long Walk Home offers viewers insights into the complex work of grassroots mobilization and the quiet day-to-day courage needed to build a movement for social justice.