I read the book "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett, but I haven't seen the movie so I can't compare and contrast yet.
But from my point of view, the civil rights issue and the treatment of the African American in Mississippi during the 1960s while abhorrent and may not have been given equal time in the book. It was a just the setting.
That's right guys just the background, something along the lines of the movie Titanic, the boat sinks in the end folks, the true plot was the love story of Rose and Jack.
In this case it's a young woman who comes home from college and who is trying to be forced to live what is considered "normal". Skeeter wants to be a writer, given the order find something to write about that is fresh and new. She stumbles upon story of writing about her community from the view of the people who work in it. While telling these women's stories she also manages to skewer some of the people she lives with and went to school.
It's about Skeeter, not the civil rights movement.
Just my take on it.