ABC/Randy HolmesJohn Legend stopped by Thursday’s Live with Kelly and Michael to promote the upcoming HBO documentary Southern Rites, a film he executive produced that follows the first desegregated proms in Montgomery County, Georgia, 42 years after schools were integrated.
The singer explained how director and acclaimed photographer Gillian Laub came up with the concept of the film, when she was shooting photos for it for a New York Times story in 2009.
“The director of this film, Southern Rites, she was doing the photography for this story and she went down there and there’s a county in Georgia and they were having a black prom and a white prom, every year,” Legend says. “They had a black homecoming court and a white homecoming court and you would think this was from 1950. So our filmmaker went down and wanted to film the aftermath of that, when they finally integrated the prom.”
Legend adds that the storyline also explores other racial divides in the county. “The film is not only looking at that story, but other issues that ended up coming up. There was a murder in the city that also brought up racial divisions and a guy was trying to run for sheriff as the first black sheriff of the town. And all of these stories were happening at once as the prom was integrating and that’s what the film is about,” he says.
“It’s really beautifully done, a great story and a really interesting story,” said Legend.
Southern Rites premieres May 18 on HBO.
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