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Cora Unashamed

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Cora Unashamed
updated 1.31.2002

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
This movie was very touching and very uplifting. I loved it! We watched this during class one day and this movie was so educational and I admire Cora so much for dealing with her gains and her losses. I felt horrible for her when Mrs. Studevant was so mean to her, and then when her daughter and Jessie died. But I loved this movie and I would definitely watch it again.

Nikki Winter
Germantown, WI

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I would like to say that my family and I enjoyed Cora Unashamed very much. My kids have learned a lot from this short story; they learned that you could love anyone in spite of your race or nationality. Thank you again. We would like you to show Cora Unashamed again because it's a learning experience for everyone.

LaShanda Coverson
New Orleans, LA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I loved the movie Cora Unashamed. I especially liked the poem that Cora recited as Jessie lay dying. Does anyone know the name of that poem and who wrote it?

No. Hampton, NH

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
In Langston Hughes's Cora Unashamed, I especially liked the poem added by the screenwriter, Anne Peacock. This poem characterized Cora and Joe's love as endless and unconfined. The references to nature, seasons, and corporeal sensations struck me as true to the kinds of things that really do stimulate memories and feelings. I felt this poem communicated well the indomitable love and spirit that Hughes intended for his character, Jessie. Can you share the text of this poem with us in The Forum?

Michael Twa
San Diego, CA

These are two of many emails we received with the same request. To read the poem click here.

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I have to tell you how much I enjoyed seeing Cora Unashamed! Usually, I do not tune in to Masterpiece Theatre, because the stories seem stuffy. This story, on the other hand, was so interesting and emotional. I was thrilled to learn that the show would be repeated later in the week, and watched it a second time! I also looked up the short story and read it. I have now found a new author whose writing I look forward to exploring. Please put more shows like this one in the future!

Natalie Woods
Moon, PA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Thanks so much for your fine portrayal of Langston Hughes's Cora Unashamed. The vulnerability of Jessie and the blindness of her family to her need to be loved was moving and more than once brought tears to my eyes. Cora was like so many women I have known -- strong, humble individuals who know what is right and good and act accordingly. I always enjoy watching Regina Taylor. She is truly a superb actress.

Lee Blake
New Bedford, MA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I want to applaud Masterpiece Theatre's American Collection for choosing Langston Hughes's Cora Unashamed for its first production. It was well done. It and the great Web pages you have created give proper credit to Langston Hughes, The Harlem Renaissance, and all they have contributed. Thanks.

Carl H. Slater
Friendswood, TX

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Ms. Taylor gave a magnificent performance. I am richer spiritually for having had the great pleasure of seeing her. Thank you.

Kharyn Leigh
San Jose, CA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I am a true fan of work from the Harlem Renaissance and I must say that I have not enjoyed a movie more than Cora Unashamed in years. This movie and the portrayal of Cora brought me to tears. Are there any other Harlem Renaissance productions in the Masterpiece series? Thank you so much for airing this program. They just don't make enough movies like this anymore.

Tammy Kennedy
President, The Black Graduate Student Association of CSU
Cleveland, OH

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I watched Cora Unashamed last night and I am still talking about it. I loved it. Regina Taylor is one of my favorite actors and her portrayal of Cora was remarkable. She and Cherry Jones are to be commended for their performances. Taylor's performance had me so riveted that when Cora lost her daughter, I cried for 20 minutes. Her range as an actress is incredible. Not having read the short story, I can not speak to the authenticity of the adaptation to the screen but I must say the director, Deborah Pratt, did a wonderful job capturing the essence of the time. Thank you PBS for a great production. I look forward to the remaining installments in the American Collection series, particularly the Henry James adaptation.

Suzanne Wilson Davis
Syracuse, NY

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I write with regards to the Langston Hughes story, Cora Unashamed. I found the overall presentation by PBS to be vibrant, colorful, provocative and stimulating... however, it seemed that a component was missing. That is the purpose for the Drama. One could agreeably say that this does match Aristotle's requirement for Drama, i.e. that the Drama must arise from the characters, again, however I must argue that the Drama fell flat. Places showed acting (dramatically) lacking, whereas in other places it was intensely dramatic. Had these been better placed, the entire performance could have been much more appealing, dramatic, vibrant and overall, the form of style that Langston Hughes would have greatly approved of. Yet, for a first airing of the American Collection, I would find that it has been a fairly decent production. Bravo for entering the American spectrum of literature -- and again, bravissimo for finding your niche in the televising of American writing greatness.

Michael B. Lopez
The University of California, Davis

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
To all who helped create Cora Unashamed, Thank you! This was beautiful in every respect. I am very grateful for the quality television you continue to provide for the public. Cora was a first class offering from beginning to end. I particularly look forward to seeing Regina Taylor in anything she does in the future.

Katherine DeGrow
Richardson, TX

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
As I was flipping channels I came across the movie Cora Unashamed and something about the setting stopped me. I watched and then flipped, but came back to it very eagerly. I finished the movie crying for the last 30 minutes of the show like I had lost a part of my soul. The poems, the story touched me so and in fact I have been reading this Web site and getting names of stories and authors so that I may read it. I haven't read a book in years. That's how much this movie touched me. THANK YOU.

Suzie Grant
Vancouver, BC, Canada

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I thoroughly enjoyed the PBS presentation of Cora Unashamed. I was compelled to visit the PBS Web site for the first time due to my curiosity about this work. How wonderful to find the story immediately available! Thank you. I will read more of Langston Hughes. I look forward to more of this series. I am grateful for American works that present an honest view of life in our country, even that which is not always pleasant. This story presents an honest picture of prejudice in many forms. Race, gender and intelligence are often the factors by which people are judged and often tragedy is a result of superficial false harsh judgement. I felt that the written story presented an even sadder picture of this reality yet it was written so well it was a pleasure to read. Again I thank you for this story and the inspiration you provided for me. I look forward to more!

Sian Salsbury
Centennial, CO

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I am an avid reader and generally prefer most books and stories to their movie adaptations. In the case of Cora Unashamed, I was deeply moved by the film but less so by the story as written by Mr. Hughes. I congratulate Masterpiece Theatre for producing such a wonderful film from a story that is fairly bare bones and I congratulate PBS for making the film a part of their programming. Thank you for providing me with an evening of entertainment that was both powerful and thought provoking. In my book, PBS beats the networks every time!

Kristyne Hacker
Sperry, OK

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I would like to thank PBS and ExxonMobil for supporting this type of literary analysis and presentation of the works of Langston Hughes. I have read several pieces in the "Teachers Guide" which I found to be very informative and quite engaging. If teachers choose to share this series with their children and their parents in turn, I believe that we will all gain an increased understanding of our history and how we can improve the way all Americans communicate and live together. This should clear the road for further constructive debate and serve to bring us closer. It will also create an increased understanding of race, racism and how we perceive the ways it is experienced by different members of our society.

Thanks for all that you do.

Trent Jefferson
Houston, TX

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I just saw Cora Unashamed. I loved it. I can't wait until the next masterpiece. I am 38 and it is only within the last 2 years that I have come to enjoy reading. I will put Langston Hughes on my list as soon as I finish with Hemingway and D.H. Lawrence. What a beautifully motivating story. What a tribute to human character (good and bad). Thank you. Great job.

Shelley Lowe
Lansing, MI

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I am a first time viewer and I have fallen in love with your series. I watched Cora Unashamed and was taken with emotion. I cried, I laughed and I cheered with every moment. It is a story I will read to my daughter when she is old enough to appreciate it. The movie showed the courage and strength that woman as mothers, daughters, lovers and friends have to muster for centuries. I could not help giving my daughter a great big hug after the movie. Thank you for bringing Langston Hughes into my life. I can't wait to read more of his works.

I look forward to The American.

Toronto, ON, Canada

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
The lovely production of Cora Unashamed was a gem! The brilliant acting, exquisite attention to detail, and unfailing realism of the setting made it one of the finest plays seen on Masterpiece Theatre in recent years. Kudos to Ms. Eaton and each person involved in this evocative presentation.

Etta Kern
El Paso, TX

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Cora Unashamed was the most wonderful TV movie I have seen in years. It's two days later and I'm still thinking of it. The richness of the story with its different themes of love, racism, youth and personal strength shows what a master Hughes was as an author. Your production did him well and the actors' performances were great. I'd so like to meet Cora and save Jessie!

Dot Curtis
North Attleboro, MA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I just wanted to say what a beautiful story Cora Unashamed is. It was shot wonderfully, the storytelling is superb and it confirms for me that excellent stories can still be found on TV. Thank you, PBS!

p.s. Where can I find a copy of the poem Cora recites to Jessie?

Tasha Gatlin
Savannah, GA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Regarding Cora Unashamed: I thought the PBS presentation was very lame, in comparison with the text. The "Hollywoodization" of the story made me ill. The role of Cora's "lickering" dad was omitted, everyone was so polite to Cora in town, Mr. Art was a spineless wimp, the blond boy Joe was dark-haired, the fat and simple Jessie was thin and freckled, the role of Mrs. Art was wishy-washy --she was sorry Cora lost Josephine, etc.while she bossed her around.

I mean, come on, did the screenwriter actually read and understand the story? Cora had a relationship in that Iowa household that would not have been possible 40 years ago, let alone 80 years ago. The story explained how she was a slave to the family. I believe that this was an inaccurate and historically incorrect portrayal of a fine story.

William S. Jones
Sound Beach, NY

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Regarding Cora Unashamed: This has been the most interesting story and video for 'at risk' students. They can relate this story to their own lives. It is very complicated to get students involved in reading, but this interests them to stay involved with the reading and viewing the video.

Betty Carnes
Beresford, SD

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Langston Hughes's Cora Unashamed brought the delicate balance of love and hate, kindness and cruelty to the screen. Regina Taylor's depiction of Cora was perfect. The setting and cast added the perfect elements to a marvelous script. Middle-grade children should be encouraged to watch Cora Unashamed, as this production is a masterpiece in facing the human flaws and beauties of our society.

C. Williams
Anniston, AL

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Normally I love Masterpiece Theatre, and I was delighted to learn that an American series was being offered. However, I thought the installment I viewed part of last Sunday was dreadful. Sorry. It was so oversentimentalized and cliched -- right down to the little girl clutching her doll and pushing an empty swing, Cora running her fingertips along the metal railing, etc. Ugh! This is what we run from when we turn to public TV. This was like a made-for-TV movie and not half so good as I'll Fly Away. Bring back the Brits!

Anne Burke
Basking Ridge, NJ

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I am writing this letter not 10 minutes after watching and being touched by Cora Unashamed. I am a ninth-grade English teacher in the throes of teaching short stories that deal with snake bites and hunting humans while works like "Cora Unashamed" are being traditionally overlooked! As a new teacher, I am constantly looking for new works that the students can relate to and that my apprehensive readers may attempt to read. This is it! I am taking the initiative to find the collection of short stories by Hughes and incorporate "Cora Unashamed" and "Thank You Ma'am" and any other good short story that I can find by him all because I have been deeply moved by the cinematic presentation of Cora Unashamed. Thank you for your interpretation and for your courage.

Mrs. Rashunda Young
Fort Campbell, KY

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I am a big fan of Langston Hughes, especially his character Simple. I think your screenplay brought out more of what could have been going on that Mr. Hughes didn't have time to mention and still kept in line with his short story. GREAT JOB. Now, if you could only get someone to sponsor a film on Simple Speaks His Mind. ;-)

R. Marsh
Houston, TX

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Cora Unashamed was a beautifully crafted and very moving story about the triumph of the heart.

As a Canadian born in Edmonton, Alberta, and living in Vancouver, I find it strange that I can relate more to the American Experience than the so-called Canadian Experience.

I believe this is because stories about America come from all over the States, and the setting for Cora being in Iowa is a good example of this. Unfortunately, stories about the "Canadian experience" almost always come from Central Canada (usually the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal area), and as such present a very narrow vision of what this country is all about.

American stories are simply more authentic -- they always have been, and I suspect they always will be.

Jim Slater
Vancouver, BC

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I am so happy to see one of my favorite American authors, Langston Hughes, featured on Masterpiece Theatre. For me, the beauty of his writing is how accurately he describes environment as well as emotion, with an economy of words. As much as I enjoyed seeing this work presented, I longed to feel the impact of these emotions in the way that I do when I read "Cora Unashamed," or any of the stories from The Ways of White Folks. Still, I think it wonderful that young people may be introduced to his writing, and I hope that teachers who study American history will be able to add this valuable writer to their curriculums.

I look forward to more from your Masterpiece Theatre.

Andrea Pietschmann
Los Angeles, CA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I absolutely think this was the best movie I have ever seen. I cried my eyes out. I stayed up until 3 a.m. watching this movie. Once I started watching it, I couldn't stop and go to sleep. I cannot stress to you how much I enjoyed watching this movie. I thought all of the actors were very good, and the portrayal of the time and place was fantastic. And to think this movie came from a 10-page short story just blows my mind. I can't wait until it comes back on so I can tell everyone I know to watch it.

Montgomery, WV

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I really enjoyed Cora Unashamed. I love anything by Langston Hughes. It was a wonderful movie. I would love to see more movies like this on PBS. Well, I am sorry this is the only station that does have a heart and sticks to wonderful, enjoyable movies and programs. Thanks for being who you are and believing in such wonderful TV. Thanks,

Rashida Clayborn
Dallas, TX

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Wow! So wonderful to see that U.S. producers can hold their own in comparison to the productions coming from Britain on Masterpiece Theatre. Langston Hughes, usually known for his poetry, has created such a beautiful character and wonderfully complex story. Why have we not seen this anthologized? Is it a short story or novel? Acting and direction and story should give it at least one Emmy nomination!

Linda Kolts
Brooklyn, NY

You can find the original story on this site. It is taken from Hughes's 1934 short story collection The Ways of White Folks.

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
This was such a beautiful movie -- its lucidity was inspiring and charming. I was touched by Cora's story, and it made me think about the way I am. Being a minority, I have not suffered as Cora did. Her struggle is an inspiration to all people of minority status. May Cora's spirit live in all of us.

Joseph Galvan
Harlingen, TX

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