Equal Opportunity hosting ‘The Help’ viewing, discussion


Actress Viola Davis stars in “The Help,” a 2011 film that will be the topic of a discussion by the Gainesville Office of Equal Opportunity Dismantling Racism Initiative. (The Associated Press)

Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 2:22 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 2:22 p.m.

The city of Gainesville Office of Equal Opportunity will host a viewing of the 2011 motion picture "The Help" as part of its ongoing Dismantling Racism Initiative that was established in 2007 to address the issue of race in several areas, including education, health, economic development and transportation.

Facts

DISMANTLING RACISM

What: Viewing and discussion of “The Help” movie by the Gainesville Office of Equal Opportunity Dismantling Racism Initiative.
When: Promptly at 6:10 p.m. Monday, with registration at 5:30 p.m.
Where: Lincoln Middle School, 1001 SE 12th St.
Information: Call 352-334-5051.

Gwen Saffo, deputy chief diversity officer at the OEO, said the showing of "The Help" will begin promptly at 6:10 p.m. Monday in the auditorium at Lincoln Middle School at 1001 SE 12th St.

Saffo said a community discussion led by Charlie Jackson, head of Alachua County Facilities Management, will take place immediately following the viewing. Also, registration will begin at 5:30 p.m. and light refreshments will be served.

"The Help," set in 1960s Mississippi, details the point of view of black maids as it relates to their employers, the white families, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis. In February, the film received several Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actress for Viola Davis, Best Supporting Actress for Jessica Chastain, and a win for Best Supporting Actress for Octavia Spencer.

The viewing and discussion are part of an ongoing quarterly series aimed at getting people from the community involved in study circles and action forums sponsored by the OEO.

Saffo said study circles are designed to get residents to discuss the pertinent and personal aspects of specific "isms," including racism, ageism and sexism. She said action forums are larger than study circles and are comprised of those from the study circles

Each action forum will address a particular issue and is designed to motivate its members to develop solutions for the problems raised in the study circles. For residents interested in joining study circles, applications can be downloaded at www.gainesvilleequalopportunity.org using the "Initiatives" then "Dismantling Racism Initiative" links or by picking one up in person at the OEO at 222 E. University Ave.

"The idea of the film festival, study circles and action forums were developed by our Dismantling Racism Change Team, a group of residents established in November 2007 to lead and organize an anti-prejudice and bias strategy for the city of Gainesville," Saffo said.

The initiative kicked off in February 2010 with the showing of "Remember the Titans," starring Denzel Washington.

Jackson, who will lead the discussion after the viewing of "The Help," said he hopes the discussion will lead to real change in the community and prompt residents to deal with issues that are often ignored.

"The main thing I would like to do is encourage people attending the viewing and discussion to discuss the key points in the movie and relate them to the past and the present so we can make a positive impact in our community," Jackson said.

Saffo said "The Help" was chosen because it is a recent movie that will probably garner a lot of attention from the community. She also said the topics that will be discussed will be topics that are dealt with in the movie. She also said along with getting people interested in being involved with study circles and action forums, the viewing and discussion have another purpose.

"We at the OEO are all about raising awareness, and we want the community to become more aware of the issues that are presented in the movies we show," Saffo said. "The whole idea is to dismantle institutional prejudices and biases."

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