Prom Night in Mississippi

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In 1997, Academy Award-winning actor Morgan Freeman offered to pay for the senior prom at Charleston High School in Mississippi under one condition: the prom had to be racially integrated. His offer was ignored. In 2008, Freeman offered again.

This time the school board accepted, and history was made. Charleston High School had its first-ever integrated prom – in 2008. Until then, blacks and whites had had separate proms even though their classrooms have been integrated for decades.

Canadian filmmaker Paul Saltzman follows students, teachers and parents in the lead-up to the big day. This seemingly inconsequential rite of passage suddenly becomes profound as the weight of history falls on teenage shoulders. We quickly learn that change does not come easily in this sleepy Delta town. Freeman’s generosity fans the flames of racism – and racism in Charleston has a distinctly generational tinge. Some white parents forbid their children to attend the integrated prom and hold a separate white-only dance.

“Billy Joe,” an enlightened white senior, appears on camera in shadow, fearing his racist parents will disown him if they know his true feelings. This documentary captures a big moment in a small town, where hope finally blossoms in black, white and a whole lot of taffeta.

Prom Night in Mississippi, 7.9 out of 10 based on 18 ratings

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  • chris

    I’m from ms and everything you see in the main stream is sh*t like this, or some podunck
    trash talking like, “that dur turnader dun took my home way”.
    Its really aggrivating…

    • Pard

      Calm down, it’s only a commercial

    • Pard

      Calm down, it’s only a commercial

    • Pard

      Calm down, it’s only a commercial

  • CartDan

    “I’m from ms ..” Where is ‘ms’?

  • Melanie

    I am shocked that it was even an issue in 2008 to have an interracial prom. I didn’t know anything but even still existed. Good on these kids for taking the step but shame on the community for taking so long to allow it.

  • L’etranger

    @CartDan MS is the two letter postal designation for Mississippi.

    • CartDan

      Hi L’etranger – thanks for clarifying, although I wonder why the original contributor expected a worldwide readership to know about US postal designation?

      • ohputain!

        all you have to do is infer a little…

        • GHuckabee

          Well you may think it possible to infer the location from “ms” but clearly others do not.

          As CartDan notes this is the WORLD Wide Web, and it’s unrealistic (and I would suggest arrogant) to expect people to know US postal designations.

          There does appear to be tendency for Americans to describe places in global forums (such as this), for example as Columbus, Ohio and Paris, France .. where as it should be Columbus, USA and Paris, France. It seems that the assumption is the default country is always the US unless otherwise stated. I don’t know if this is because of an insular or arrogant attitude.

          • Salom3000

            Hi GHuckabee – could not agree with you more.
             

          • Salom3000

            Hi GHuckabee – could not agree with you more.
             

  • Benoît

    Hi CartDan.

    I doubt Chris was expecting a worlwide readership.

  • CartDan

    Hi Benoît,

    Considering it’s the WORLD Wide Web a worldwide readership must be a possibility!

  • PN

    Because America is obviously the center of the universe…

    • Minky

      PN, I hope you are not being serious.

  • frank

    It’s better for both the blacks and whites to be segregated. End of story.

  • http://infinityparkeventcenter.com/international-ballroom.php Monica Bremer

    Oh well, prom night is for kids to enjoy. Let’s just settle for the best way they can enjoy the night they’ve been waiting for. It only happens once in their lives, anyway.

  • Gabriellagorey

    I think we should just segregate you from the rest of the world Frank. FIN

  • Abbot34

    This is the very epitome of social engineering. Social engineering that destroys natural cultures in favor of mixing. By Morgan’s interjection into these kids lives he is stating that White culture is inherently wrong without mixing with others. He could care less about the 2000 Haitians who are dying of clorea, but he’ll spend time, money and extend his celebrity status to race-mix. Multi-cutralism is destroying every White western country. Japan, nor Mexico, nor Africa, nor Saudi Arabia ‘forces’ multiculuriasm: only White countries to the loss of our own culture. It’s not racism to love your own race and the desire to spend time with those like you, UNLESS you are White, then you are RACIST. This video proves the desire of others to ‘force’ other cultures on us, which is leading to catatrophe.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JJS3AAN3AHGRALELKIT4C23ZVY Patrick

      He is not stating that white culture is wrong.  Segregation is a claim that other races are not fit to socialize or mix with you.  This is a racist attitude.  And how do you know his stance on the “2000 haitians”?  You seem to like making a lot of generalizations and assumtions, but go figure, a person of your kind usually does this.

       I honestly don’t see how racism and segregation can be good for the whole of humanity and society.  It’s a backwords mentality that does not lead to the betterment of society as a whole.  If you segregate others, how will you ever learn to work with others? 

      You seem to be against other races.  It’s fine if you want to hail your race as the greatest and shun others but please don’t come on here spreading your message of intolerance.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JJS3AAN3AHGRALELKIT4C23ZVY Patrick

      He is not stating that white culture is wrong.  Segregation is a claim that other races are not fit to socialize or mix with you.  This is a racist attitude.  And how do you know his stance on the “2000 haitians”?  You seem to like making a lot of generalizations and assumtions, but go figure, a person of your kind usually does this.

       I honestly don’t see how racism and segregation can be good for the whole of humanity and society.  It’s a backwords mentality that does not lead to the betterment of society as a whole.  If you segregate others, how will you ever learn to work with others? 

      You seem to be against other races.  It’s fine if you want to hail your race as the greatest and shun others but please don’t come on here spreading your message of intolerance.

    • J_Dirt

      What exactly is “white” culture?  What you think of as “white” culture already is the product of multiculturalism.  Are Irish people part of what you call white culture?  Ever seen gangs of New York?  The Irish and other Catholics were seen by many more “WASPy” Americans as unfit to socialize with protestant people of mainland English decent until JFK was elected.  How about Italians and Jews?  They were not considered part of whatever “white” was/is until recently.  People of Spanish decent?  Mexicans? 

      The fact is, “white” culture already is a multicultural stew, an amalgam of Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, pan-European, Native American and African American cultures.  “White culture has been in a constant state of flux, evolution, and self-redefinition since the Mayflower arrived.  So get over it.

      The Japanese can defend their culture against dilution, because they have one.  To the extent we here in America have ever had one culture, that culture’s single most prominent defining characteristic has been it’s inability to be defined in any one way.  In short, our culture as Americans IS multiculturalism.  So, again, you better get over it!

  • Pard

    Calm down, it’ only a commercial.

  • Pard

    Calm down, it’ only a commercial.

  • Pard

    Calm down, it’ only a commercial.

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  • Johnc87

    Today, while I was at work, my sister stole my apple ipad and tested to see if it can survive a 30 foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My apple ipad is now destroyed and she has 83 views. I know this is entirely off topic but I had to share it with someone! cbkaebddbgec