Spike Lee’s School Daze Movie at 30 – Anniversary Celebration in Atlanta

The Sudderth sisters tells Mr. Spike Lee "Thank you for creating the hit movie, School Daze 30 years ago and for your other major accomplishments" - Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

Academy Award Nominee Spike Lee, film director, producer, writer, actor and professor has been entertaining, enlightening and motivating us for over 40 years. Beginning with his college days, he has brought his life as well as millions of students’ lives to the big screen in February 1988 with School Daze, an urban musical comedy drama film displaying college life on campus.

Spike Lee takes the stage in Atlanta, Georgia, the great city where he was born – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

Since then, School Daze has become a Black Classic that many have seen, talked about or quoted. I used to laugh at people quoting those funny lines but I didn’t fully understand, because I was ashamed. I felt “out of it” because I had never seen the movie.

My friends couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen this classic movie so they joked, “We are taking away your Black Membership Card. Everybody has seen this movie four or five times, we cannot believe you have not seen it.” But, honestly, I just didn’t get a chance because I was traveling with the military.

“Fast Forward” to February 2018—I am listening to Spike Lee being interviewed on FM Jazz Station Radio 91.9 WCLK by Ray Cornelius on “UPFRONT” that aires every Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. I was so excited listening to him and was so proud of all that he has accomplished during and after graduating from Atlanta’s Morehouse College in 1979.

Spike Lee, Ray Cornelius, host of “UPFRONT” and Dr. Herbert L. Eichelberger, the distinguished Professor in Mass Media Arts that taught Spike in college and still teaches – Photo Courtesy of Ray Cornelius

Over the airwaves, he extended the invitation, “Be at the Fabulous Fox Theatre on President Day, February 19, here in Atlanta for the 30th Anniversary Screening of School Daze. Make sure you wear your college, fraternity and sorority attire and I guarantee there will be those quoting the movie verbatim”.

The flyer that helped to bring thousands of fans to the Fox Theatre – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

I was so excited when Monday, February 19 came that I purchased two tickets earlier that morning. When my sister and I arrived at the Fox Theatre that evening, the line was all the way down the street. All I could see was college attire, people of all ages, etc.

The Fabulous Fox Theatre in downtown Atlanta, GA is ready for Spike Lee – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

Everyone was so excited trying to get to their seats and save seats for their friends. It was so beautiful to see and feel all that excitement and to be part of this. It was estimated that 3,300 fans were present to see Spike and the movie.

Electricity and excitement were in the air – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

Our newly elected Atlanta mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms honored Mr. Lee with a Proclamation.

Spike Lee receiving Proclamation honors from Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

He spoke and everyone was screaming for him. Then he put me on guard, when he said, “If there is anybody out there, that has never seen this movie, well, you are SH** out of luck”. I had to laugh because I knew what he meant. He told the movie goers, “If you want to sing along, quote the lines or get up and dance, then just do it.”

I laughed throughout this hilarious movie but it still had its serious moments. I gave it a 5-star rating. It was so funny listening to people talking to the screen, saying the lines with the actors and singing along with the songs “Straight and Nappy” and “Be Alone Tonight”.

The highlight musical number was the band, E.U. (Experience Unlimited) performing their previous Top Billboard Hit “Da Butt”. The great beat came on and the people, including me jumped up and started dancing. Most of us were dancing and snapping photos all at the same time—that was fun!!!

Spike Lee’s fans enjoying and dancing to “Da Butt” from the movie School Daze – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

School Daze, premiered 30 years ago which started and broaden the career of many of the actors in the movie including my hometown friend, Cylk Cozart from Knoxville, Tennessee. I had forgotten that he was in this movie so when I saw him I got excited, took a picture of the movie screen and texted it to him.

Cylk Cozart (light blue) on the big screen of Hollywood in School Daze – Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

It blew him away that 30 years ago he was on the big screen in that college movie which was part of his long career of over 30 films (White Men Can’t Jump), 20 TV shows and numerous awards. A few days later after the 30th Anniversary celebration of the college movie he starred in, Mr. Cozart received The Diversity Award from The University of Tennessee. Cylk Cozart, a filmmaker, humanitarian, speaker, etc continues to have a successful career and gives back to various communities.

After the movie, Spike signed School Daze, Crooklyn and Malcomb X’s memorabilia.

Spike Lee happy to sign Crooklyn poster for his fan – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth
Spike Lee amazed at a fan wearing the original jacket from Malcomb X movie with his production company logo “Forty Acres And A Mule Production” Brooklyn, NY – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

He was amazed at the long line of fans waiting to take photos with him. I asked him how he was feeling tonight and he gave me two thumbs up and smiled like he was so grateful. I enjoyed watching everyone interacting with him and Spike looking very comfortable. Also, he was so impressive listening to many of his fans’ quick stories.

Renee Sudderth, fan and Splash Magazine Photojournalist surprised at the long line fans waited over a hour to talk to Mr. Lee while he pose in the background with fan but looking at me – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

When I walked away, I was so happy and proud to say “Now, I am part of this Black Classic Film School Daze. I will be watching it over and over, just like the world and my friends have done over this 30 year span”.

Thank you, Mr. Spike Lee for sharing your many gifts, talents and abilities, for you have truly inspired us. Please, continue to motivate us and encourage us to “Wake Up”.

“Wake Up” scene at the end representing “Wake Up and Be Aware what’s going on around you at all times” – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth
“I hope I’m leaving a legacy, if so I’m very happy and blessed about it” – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

14 Comments

  1. JERRY HALL, Feb 25, 2018 via Facebook – Great article and pictures. Keep up the good work and wonderful pictures as you rub shoulders with the rich and famous. Our Black History!

  2. M. SAMPSON, Feb 26, 2018 via email – Hey Ms. Renee I Remember School Daze I loved That Movie I am Glad You Did An Article On The Movie Keep Up The Good Work I Love You Peace And Blessings

  3. JOEY THOMASON, Feb 26, 2018 via email – Wow, I missed the celebration and Spike Lee at the Fox. Your story and pictures were just great! It took me back to when I attended Bishop College in Dallas, Texas, where Monty Ross and I met and were close friend. Monty Ross, co-produced with Spike.

  4. JOEY THOMASON, Feb 26, 2018 via email – Wow, I missed the celebration and Spike Lee at the Fox. Your story and pictures were just great! It took me back to when I attended Bishop College in Dallas, Texas, where Monty Ross and I met and were close friends. Monty, co-produced with Spike.

  5. BRIAN K. PATTERSON, Feb 26, 2018 via Facebook – Wow Renee Sudderth you never seen School Daze! That’s very hard to believe my friend. Wow and you didn’t know your homeboy and my friend Cylk Cozart was in the movie. Cylk what do you have to say about your home girl? Great article and keep me posted on the next one.

  6. DEIRDRE MORRIS, Feb 26, 2018 via email – You are everywhere! Congrats on the write-up. Great job! Don’t forget to let me know about upcoming events

  7. Excellent Job! I really enjoyed this article and the showing of School Daze 30 years later looks like it was loads of fun.

    Thanks Ms. Sudderth 🙂

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