Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Long Walk Home


Before there was The Help, there was The Long Walk Home. It’s about all the working black people of Montgomery, Alabama, who boycotted city buses for 381 days in reaction to the arrest of Rosa Parks for refusing to give up her seat to a white man. (It makes you cringe to see how this monstrosity operated, with black passengers getting on in the front, paying their fare, then getting off again to re-enter through the back door.) The story centers on Whoopi Goldberg, who works as a maid for oblivious Sissy Spacek. Sissy is good at heart, but she’s got a lot working against her. Her husband just wants things to go along as they always have, but his brother is a real Klansman (though we never see him in a hood). The kind of guy you just want to work over with a baseball bat. The domestic scenes with Whoopi’s family are heartbreaking, as she struggles to get to work on time and have enough energy to do anything when she gets there on her bleeding feet. Eventually Sissy decides to give her rides when she can, and that is the beginning of her radicalization, so that eventually she ends up driving in the car pool. I think it began simply because she needed her maid to get there and do all the jobs too menial for her spoiled, lily-white ass, but eventually she comes to see the justice of the boycott, impelled in no small part by an edict from hubby that she not drive her maid anywhere. It’s a good story, with great performances by both women, and particularly by Whoopi.