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Have you seen 'The Help'? What Anastasia Bush and D.G. Martin think

We'd love to get a few more comments about 'The Help' for this Sunday's Chapel Hill News and Durham News. Here are two responses to the movie, from Anastasia Bush, Durham County Library grant writer, and an excerpt from D.G. Martin's syndicated column, 'One on One'. Tell us what you think at

I was not planning to see The Help, but I’m glad I did. The movie addressed some of the book’s limitations, plus it was visually lush.

The book disappointed me because the characters that I most wanted to learn about – Minny and Aibileen – were not given the depth of characterization they demanded as courageous women living in tumultuous times, while self-absorbed Skeeter’s concerns kept intruding on what was, to me, the real story. By contrast, the movie allowed talented actors to bring more depth to each character and it offered visual details to bring their world to life.

We saw Minny at home with her children, Aibileen’s commute to work, their church congregation, lots of summertime sweat, a real down home feast and the beauty of a small Mississippi town in the late afternoon. Finally, I’m glad I saw the movie and read the book because they have people talking, engaging in thoughtful discussion and expressing a wide range of views about real issues in the segregated South.


Last year, I tried to persuade a black pastor to organize some older women in his congregation to discuss “The Help” with whites. He made inquiries and reported to me that he could find no interest in his congregation in such a project.

Recently, syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts helped white me understand the mixed feelings that blacks have about “The Help.”

“As Americans,” he wrote, “we lie about race. We lie profligately, obstinately and repeatedly. The first lie is of its existence as an immutable reality delivered unto us from the very hand of God.

“That lie undergirds all the other lies, lies of Negro criminality, mendacity, ineducability. Lies of sexless mammies and oversexed wenches. Lies of docile child-men and brutal bucks. Lies that exonerate conscience and cover sin with sanctimony. Lies that pinched off avenues of aspiration till “the help” was all a Negro woman was left to be.

“I think of those lies sometimes when aging white southerners contact me to share sepia-toned reminiscences about some beloved old nanny who raised them, taught them, loved them, and who was almost a member of the family.


“Reading their emails, I wonder if those folks understand even now, a lifetime later, that that woman did not exist simply as a walk-on character in a white person’s life drama, that she was a fully formed human being with a life, and dreams and dreads of her own.”

Nevertheless, Pitts concedes that “The Help” is a triumph, an “imperfect triumph to have understood this and seek to make others understand it, too.”

Send your thoughts about 'The Help' to by 5 p.m. Wednesday. Thank you.  

Have you seen 'The Help'? Let's talk about it it

Have you seen 'The Help'? If you have, and especially if you know people who worked as maids during the civil rights era, the movie may have raised issues for you.

We asked several people before the movie came out last week if they would consider sharing their thoughts with our readers. We called the Durham County Library, which has done programming around the wildly successful book the movie is based on. They agreed to contribute essays for The Chapel Hill News and The Durham News.

Now we'd like to invite you to consider joining the conversation. If you've seen the movie or plan to see it this weekend, we invite you to send us up to 500 words on what you thought about it and any issues it raised for you. We'll print submissions or excerpts from submissions in upcoming issues of the two local papers.

Please send your essay, along with a jpeg photo of yourself, to by Monday, Aug. 22. Thank you,

Mark Schultz


Problem plumbing closing library branch early

The Durham County Library's new South Regional branch is closing Dec. 23 for plumbing repair.

“Sometimes a problem like this turns up in new construction,” said Priscilla Lewis, an assistant director of the county library system. "We caught it early.

Other branches and the main library downtown are closing Dec. 24-27 for the Christmas holiday. The library administration expects to reopen the South Regional along with the others on Dec. 28, but advises there will be construction work going on there through Jan. 3.

The South Regional, at the former Lowe's Grove School campus on Alston Avenue at N.C. 54, opened July 28.

Ruffin names new county library director

Tammy Baggett has been named Durham County Library director. She has been assistant library director for the New Hanover County Public Library in Wilmington since 2008.

Baggett will run Durham County Government’s main library and its seven branches beginning Nov. 29.
"She is a seasoned library professional who will bring a new level of innovation and a tremendous amount of energy to our library service delivery process,” County Manager Mike Ruffin said.

Baggett has held positions at the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County where she served as senior library manager; the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library in Roswell, Ga.; where she was an assistant branch manager; and the Forsyth County Library in Winston-Salem, where she held positions as children’s librarian, assistant branch manager and branch manager. She also worked in the UNC-Wilmington’s Randall Library and New Hanover County Public Library while attending UNCW.
She has a master’s of library science degree from NCCU and an undergraduate degree in speech communications with a minor in public relations from UNCW.   Her professional affiliations include memberships in the American Library Association, and the North Carolina Library Administration where she serves as a director at large and a mentor.
Baggett succeeds Hampton M. "Skip" Auld, who resigned in May  after leading the eight-branch system for almost four years. Exactly what led to his resignation remains unclear. Both Auld and County Manager Mike Ruffin would only cite differences in management philosophy.

Ruffin said the decision to resign was Auld's alone. Auld said Ruffin asked for his resignation.

Priscilla Lewis has been serving as interim director.

Everyone likes a good love story

Fact: Romance novels are some of the most popular items that the Durham County Library lends out each year.

(I think that means they are not just a guilty pleasure anymore, but something people love to talk about.)

So get out your favorite love stories and join the Durham County Library on Sunday at the second annual Romance Tea, where four local romance authors will talk about how they craft their stories, and what makes a good one.

Teens to model fashions at library show

For the fourth year, a team of teenagers will be putting on a fashion show at the Stanford L. Warren Library at 1201 Fayetteville St. The event is free.

The show, featuring 15 models, ages 12 to 17, will be held from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. this Saturday.

The clothes, on loan from Cato, Dress Barn and S&K Fashion, are divided into categories including looks for prom, casual styles, hip-hop styles, formal wear, outfits for church and some just for fun.

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