top of page

Alpha Rho's Feature Roles In "School Daze" Hit The Big Screen Again For 30th Anniversa

Spike Lee and how ‘School Daze’ made black colleges matter

By Ernie Suggs

Monday, February 19, 2018

Thirty years ago this month — “A Different World” was still finding its way, and “The Quad” was still a generation in the future — Atlanta-born filmmaker Spike Lee introduced a large portion of the culture to black colleges with his landmark film, “School Daze.”

“Today, 30 years later, people still come up to me and say, ‘Spike, you are the reason I went to a black school. I didn’t even know there were black schools. You are the reason I went to college. You are the reason I am in this job,” Lee said. “That film really changed people’s lives.”

Lee, a 1979 graduate of Morehouse College, was in Atlanta Monday for a special anniversary screening of the movie at the Fox Theater. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms presented Lee with a Phoenix Award, one of the city's highest civic honors.

Lee called Presidents Day "Barack Obama Day" as thousands of fans — decked out in HBCU or Greek letter sweaters — did “Da Butt” in the aisles, booed Big Brother Almighty, saluted the late Ossie Davis and Phyllis Hyman and wept for Jane.

Before the event, he stopped by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution to talk about the movie and what he wanted it to say about black life as told through a specific college experience.

“School Daze,” when it debuted in 1988, told of a homecoming weekend at the fictional Mission College in Atlanta.

The film, which was shot around the Atlanta University Center, was one of the first modern features shot in a city that has become the Southern Hollywood.

Fresh off his 1986 feature debut, “She’s Gotta Have It,” Lee’s “School Daze” tackled several controversial issues — class, gender, sex, ethnicity — that had been