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The Long Walk Home
SUBJECTS — U.S./Civil Rights, 1945 - 1991 & Alabama;
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Female Role Model;
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — Trustworthiness; Respect.
Age: 12+; MPAA Rating: PG; Drama; 1989; 95 minutes; Color.
This is a film about the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott. The focus is on a white middle class family whose members have divergent views on the protest. The film also reveals some of the sacrifices made by the black citizens of Montgomery during the boycott.
The TeachWithMovies.com Learning Guide to The Long Walk Home helps teachers use this film to reveal how nonviolent civil disobedience works on the mind of the public, including members of the oppressor class. In this case, a white woman becomes convinced that it is not fair to require blacks to sit at the back of the bus. She stands up to the male power structure and all her friends in order to do the right thing and help the protestors.
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The Montgomery Bus Boycott was a seminal event in U.S. history. The Long Walk Home makes the history of the time come alive.
Learning Guide Excerpt
To give you a sense of how our Learning Guides can be used by teachers to develop lesson plans, and by parents to supplement school curriculum or for homeschooling, we have set out below selections from the Learning Guide to The Long Walk Home .
The movie shows Mrs. Thompson driving Odessa, her maid, to and from work. Initially, Odessa sat in the back seat of the car. It was the custom in the South in the 1950s and 60s that when a white woman drove her black maid to and from work, the maid sat in the back seat of the car. The maids were usually too poor to own cars and there was inadequate public transportation. Therefore, many white women drove their maids to and from work. But it was not deemed appropriate for the maid to sit in the front seat along with her white employer because sitting together in the front seat of a car implied equality and close association.
This custom led to some interesting situations. One anecdote from Tallahassee, Florida, goes like this. An overweight white male newspaper reporter with a sense of humor was once slowly ambling across an intersection. The traffic light changed while he was still in the middle of the street. A white woman who was taking her maid home from work was stopped at the light. The maid was, according to the custom, in the back seat. When the light changed, the reporter was still in the intersection and the woman could not proceed without running him over. Frustrated, she honked at the reporter. The reporter, now walking a little faster, went over to the open rear window of the car and said to the maid, "Madam, please ask your chauffeur to be more patient!"
The Learning Guide to the film The Long Walk Home contains sections on Benefits of the Movie, Possible Problems, Helpful Background, Discussion Questions, Links to the Internet, and Bridges to Reading. The Discussion Questions are divided into three categories: Subject Matter, Social-Emotional Learning, and Moral-Ethical Emphasis.
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