In The Help, the white community reacts to the growing Civil Rights movement by continuing to exercise segregation and even trying to strengthen the segregation laws already in effect in Jackson, Mississippi. For example, Hilly Holbrook tries to maintain the hierarchy in which whites have more power by starting a campaign for whites to build outdoor bathrooms for their African-American maids. She claims that this campaign is to ensure white people's health, as African-Americans carry germs that are harmful to whites. Of course, this campaign is motivated more by Hilly's desire for power than by science, as African-American domestics cook white people's food and tend to their babies (work that Hilly does nothing to stop).
In addition, Hilly spreads rumors about maids, such as Minny, who speak back to her. Finally, Skeeter's mother, Mrs. Phelan, fires her long-time maid, Constantine, when Constantine's daughter insists on eating with the white women in her house. While the Civil Rights movement promises to bring eventual change to Jackson, the white community, as a whole, intends on maintaining its power, and the rights of the African-American community are curtailed as a result. They have little freedom to decide who they want to work for, and they are restricted in what they can say in front of their white employers if they hope to keep their jobs.