Events in history are studied as they effect society as a whole, a better understanding is gained through the effect of events on the people who lived through them. The Long Walk Home is the walk home for Odessa Cotter (Whoopi Goldberg), a quiet black maid in Montgomery, Alabama is 1956. Odessa participated in the bus boycott along with Rosa Parks and eventually forced the city to capitulate and allow blacks to ride in the front of the bus.
Miriam Thompson (Sissy Spacek) Odessa's employer, and upper-middle class woman, is drawn into the controversy when she drives Odessa to and from work because she needs a maid. When fear and anger take over the middle class Thompson's safe comfortable family life is shattered by a husband who must support the separatists whites to continue in business. Odessa's family is changed. Her eldest son becomes strong and angry and her daughter is assaulted by white teens when she rides the bus alone.
The drama is played out in the every day activities of each family. Odessa's son's first reaction is that this will allow him to stay home from school, She is required to make and serve Christmas dinner and listen to dinner conversation which insults blacks, while her family is at home without their mother, OIdessa's family is loving and supportive and filled with hope, as is the white family, but the reality of wealth is obvious at Christmas when numerous large gifts are under the tree in the white home and only stockings are filled in the black household, a special gift for Odessa and church services are the heart of the celebration,
The patience and inward strength which were maintained by Odessa are played naturally and smoothly by Goldberg. Her anger and pain are apparent, but she is in control and they never surface. She could easily win an Academy Award for this performance,
A short time ago, blacks had no rights. They had to work in limited jobs, ride in the backs of buses and dared not speak out. Leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr, are the figures that history will focus on but; quiet women like Odessa suffered daily without the glamour, yet held their own and opened the door for the generations to come,
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