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Friday, September 25, 2009

Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind and philanthropy

Heidi Rice has done a piece about the movie Gone With the Wind for the Pink Heart Society. In common with many people, she expresses her disquiet at some of the portrayal of the South and slavery. It can make for uncomfortable viewing, particularly for those who do not realise that the GWTW was responsible for the first black woman receiving an Oscar -- Hattie MacDaniel as Mammie. The bar was set very high in 1936 and fortunately for everyone, MsMacDaniel proved she was more than capable of leaping over it.
GWTW is also a movie that was made in 1936 and is very much of its time. It is easy to forget that back then, the American Civil War still caused problems and the old wounds festered. The Civil Rights movement had not happened.
For Margaret Mitchell, the book was not about glorifying that period but about survival and looking at how some people survived war and some did not.
However, what Heidi discovered and I did not know is that Margaret Mitchell used the money from Gone With the Wind to help out Morehouse College, in particular she paid the tuition for dozens of black students to become doctors. Martin Luther King Jr is the most famous of Morehouse's alumni ( King attended Morehouse during the period that Mitchell was actively giving btw) and even today the college educates African American men to take on the challenges on the 21st century.
Margaret Mitchell's support was done very quietly and with little fanfare. She also helped to establish the first black hospital in Atlanta and was a tireless worker for human rights. The Mitchell family has continued to support Morehouse and did eventually endow a chair there.
Practical things done without fuss.
Margaret Mitchell has gone up in my estimation.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

So many people who do good make sure everyone knows what they are doing. I really admire those people who quietly do good without broadcasting the fact. A very interesting blog post

Caroline Storer said...

I agree with anonymous. Good works should be done with a good heart and not for publicity purposes. It's good to hear of people like the Xerox guy and Margaret Mitchell doing philanthropic works. Take care. Caroline x

Michelle Styles said...

Caroline --

Here is the Smithsonian article on Chester Carlson. Page 5 lists his philanthropy.
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/copies.html?c=y&page=5

YOu have to admire his style.

Caroline Storer said...

Thanks for the link Michelle. What a fantastic man Chester Carlson was! So, so modest it's wonderful to read about him and his good works. Next time I Xerox something at work I'll think of him (and his lovely wife) with a smile on my face. In this fast paced, self-obsessed world we live in, it's nice to read about people like Chester and be humbled. Thanks again. Take care. Caroline x