“We Ain’t Doin’ Civil Rights”: The Life and Times of a Genre, as Told in The Help

Family watching television, ca. 1958, by Evert F. Baumgardner, National Archives and Records Administration.

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“We Ain’t Doin’ Civil Rights”: The Life and Times of a Genre, as Told in The Help

by Allison Graham
Southern Cultures, Vol. 20, No. 1: The Help

"Perhaps because the modern Civil Rights Movement and television news came of age together, the younger medium was destined to become an iconographic feature of the civil rights genre."

Midway through the 2011 film adaptation of The Help, Charlotte Phelan storms into the “relaxing room” of her plantation home and turns off the television set that her daughter Skeeter and two members of the domestic staff have been watching. “Don’t encourage them like that!” she yells at her daughter, as “the help” rush from the room.