While watching Prom Night in Mississippi, I was a little bit shocked that it was filmed in 2008. Charleston High School in Charleston, Mississippi integrated in 1970, but they still held a Black Prom and a White Prom through 2007. Then Morgan Freeman (you know, the Oscar-winning actor, who's a Mississippi resident) suggested they go with just one prom, which he would pay for. His offer was ignored by the school board in 2007, but accepted by the students in 2008. As Freeman says, "If it's left up to the students, it's gonna be fine." This documentary uses student diaries and emotional interviews -- as well cartoon reenactments -- to show what kids, parents and school officials in the town think about integrating the Prom. We see interracial couples, parents raised to pass on a racist mentality and kids who just plain aren't sure what to think about how divided their school is. It's unsettling, fascinating, heartbreaking and uplifting all at the same time -- like a really great episode of MTV's "True Life."
The town in Prom Night in Mississippi may seem really different from where you live, or it may seem like somewhere up the road. Either way, it's part of America's very recent history, and it's important to see. The DVD is out on January 26th, and you can pre-order it now.
Watch the trailer here:
Happy MLK, Jr. Day.