Once there was dignity
I’ve spent the last couple of days reliving the past via “The Help,” a moving film about black maids and the white families they served in 1960s Jackson, Miss., and ABC’s documentary “Jacqueline Kennedy: In Her Own Words,” based on interviews the former first lady did with Arthur Schlesinger Jr. a few months after JFK’s 1963 assassination.
The stories seem like ancient history to today’s younger audiences and Caroline Kennedy called her mother’s interviews “a snapshot of a world we barely recognize,” but the period covered in both was when I was finishing intermediate school and starting high school and I recognize it well.
It was a time of great hardship and tragedy, but also of great hope and commitment that brought historic change to our country, mostly for the better.
These women, the black maids from Missssippi and the debutante from the exclusive schools of New York and Connecticut, couldn’t have been more different in many ways, but it was the similarities that made their stories compelling.
They all displayed remarkable courage and inner strength in dealing with adversity and ultimately changing history.
They played the cards they were dealt with an unwavering dignity, disdaining public displays of drama so common today with some politician on every network and some malcontent on every street corner whining about getting screwed.
It struck me that courage and dignity are qualities we could use a lot more of today as we confront a new set of challenges of the same magnitude of those in the ’60s.
“The Help” is still playing in local theaters and you can see the Kennedy documentary at abc.com.
Also just released was Schlesinger’s book, “Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life With John F. Kennedy,” which includes CDs of all six hours of the audio interviews.
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