Just one more reason to love the great Morgan Freeman: the actor donated $17,000 to his local high school in Charleston, Mississippi, so that the high school students could finally hold their first integrated prom.
Freeman's offer, which was first made in 1997, was finally taken up by the school eleven years later, thanks in part to Freeman's participation in a documentary film by Paul Saltzman, who documented Freeman's pitch to the school board, community reactions, and student interviews which showed reactions to the idea of an integrated prom and discussions of the racism that is still present in their town. Not everyone was thrilled with the idea of an integrated dance; several students retaliated by holding a "Whites-Only" prom, which the filmmakers were not invited to cover.
The documentary, "Prom Night In Mississippi," is premiering this week at Sundance. Freeman, who was outraged ("It's the stupidest thing I've ever heard") that children in his town were still dealing with segregated dances, hopes that the prom, and the film, will break down the separate dance system and the mentality that fuels it. "The kids are not going to want to go backwards," Freeman says, "They've got their toe in the water, and the water's warm."
A clip of the film: