Movie Details

While the United States Supreme Court declared that segregated schools were unconstitutional in 1954, change came slowly to Charleston, Mississippi. Once a haven for the Ku Klux Klan, Charleston maintained segregated public schools until well into the 1970's, and even then one major event in the school year was still divided along racial lines. Charleston's high school had separate Senior Proms for white and African-American students, and the annual events made news in 1997 when actor Morgan Freeman, a Charleston native, spoke out against the "separate but equal" proms and made the school board an offer -- if they held an integrated prom, he would pay for it. Morgan's offer was refused at the time, but in 2008, Charleston announced that black and white students would attend the same prom for the first time. Canadian filmmaker Paul Saltzman offers a look at the long and rocky road to this step towards racial equality in the documentary Prom Night In Mississippi, which features interviews with a number of students (some of whom speak out against racism while being photographed in shadow, fearing repercussions from their community and their parents), faculty members and parents on both sides of the issue, as well as Morgan Freeman. (A group of white parents in Charleston staged a private "whites only" prom, but Saltzman and his crew were denied permission to film it.) Prom Night In Mississippi received its world premiere at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi