Staff Picks Category: Civil rights

Lives Worth Living []

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When I went to the Northampton Senior Center for a special Northampton Commission on Disability screening of Lives Worth Living I didn’t know anything about the film or its subject the disability rights movements. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the film was not just informative, but a well-crafted and incredibly moving introduction to the subject that left me eager to learn more.

At just 54 minutes in length, Lives Worth Living is too short to be more than an introduction to the story of disability rights (which it traces from the polio epidemics of the early twentieth century and the treatment of disabled veterans up to the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990), but it makes excellent use of the time it has. We briefly learn about the discrimination and negative attitudes faced by the people with disabilities who were too often assumed to be without potential or worth. We briefly learn about the shocking maltreatment of people with mental disorders and about the Willowbrook State School and the abuses that occurred there and at similar institutions throughout the country. We learn about the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and other early legislation, but more importantly we learn about the advocates who pushed to expand protections for the disabled, unifying diverse groups (associations for the blind, the physically handicapped, mental patients and others), and how disability rights became recognized as civil rights. And we learn about the protesters—the individuals who occupied buildings, locked themselves to bus shelters, and even crawled and pulled their way up the capitol steps to make their message heard.

Lives Worth Moving is a powerful film, well worth watching and relevant to us all. I cannot recommend it enough.

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Map Of Ireland by Stephanie Grant []

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Recently we had a display of books by Massachusetts writers and this particular book caught my attention. Set in the South Boston busing crisis of 1974, it is the story of Ann Ahern, a high school junior and her growing awareness of her surroundings as well as her personal coming out as a lesbian. Through her growing infatuation with her beautiful substitute French teacher Mademoiselle Eugenie who hails from Paris and is of African descent, she is drawn into the conflict of her times – both personal and political. An overall impressive view of a young woman caught in the struggle of identification as a Southie as well as her initial exposure to the world beyond her limited family and neighborhood.

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The Help by Kathryn Stockett []

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This bestselling debut novel has become one of my favorites. Skeeter, a new college graduate of Ole Miss, returns home in 1962 dreaming of becoming a writer. She takes a columnist position giving household cleaning advice to housewives. Knowing little on the subject, she asks advice of her friend’s black maid, Aibileen. Each week, Skeeter learns more about Aibileen’s life and her stories as a maid. She then meets Aibileen’s friend, Minny, a sassy and outspoken maid with equally interesting stories. Together the three women come together on a risky project that will bring change and awareness to their community.

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