Vernon Johns, a brilliant man coupled with an eloquent speaker, upsets his community through his radical ideas on social change and economic independence of blacks. From his pulpit, he ...
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Set in nineteenth-century New Orleans, the story depicts the gens de couleur libre, or the Free People of Colour, a dazzling yet damned class caught between the world of white privilege and black oppression.
Making good on a promise he made to his dying wife, a widower (Jones) opens a reading room, a place where people can learn to read. Despite his goodwill, problems in the neighborhood threaten his establishment.
Georg Stanford Brown
James Earl Jones,
Widowed farmer John Webb has been depressed since the death of his wife Bessie. He would like to keep his yearly harvest going, but getting low on funds he has some hard decisions to make concerning his farm.
James Earl Jones,
Ed Begley Jr.
Vernon Johns, a brilliant man coupled with an eloquent speaker, upsets his community through his radical ideas on social change and economic independence of blacks. From his pulpit, he attacks the white power and denounces police brutality towards his brother race. His biggest enemy is nonetheless his own congregation who hesitates to mobilize behind him.Written by
ON SCREEN: "Before the civil rights movement could begin, it would take the actions of a few brave souls to set that movement into motion. This is a story of one of them." See more »
After one of his parishioners is raped, Rev. Johns has his daughter post his Sunday Sermon announcement on the church sign. The sign shows the name of the church, Sunday Service 11:00 AM, and "Dr. Vernon Johns, Pastor", and between the service time and Johns name is 'WHEN THE RAPIST IS WHITE', with single quote marks before and after. In the next scene, Johns is called to see a judge, who shows Johns a picture of the sign with the Sunday Sermon announcement, except the picture shows "WHEN THE RAPIST IS WHITE" with double quote marks before and after, and with the Sermon announcement above the service time, and instead of 'Dr. Vernon Johns, Pastor', it reads 'Rev. Dr. Vernon Johns' with 'Pastor' on a separate line below his name. See more »
This boy lived a trifling and worthless life. He went around Montgomery daring someone to cut his throat. Saturday night somebody obliged him. He lived like a dog; he died like a dog. Undertaker, claim the body. Choir, sing.
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The Producers acknowledge the significant contribution of author, Taylor Branch, to the public awareness of the life of Reverend Vernon Johns. See more »
Great film and superior acting by John Earl Jones and a great supporting cast
This is must see for those who are unfamiliar with heroes of the Civil Rights Movement prior to Brown v. the Board of Education and Martin Luther King, Jr. James Earl Jones powerfully portrays a man with all of the courage of Martin Luther King, Jr., but with a more blunt and direct approach. The film masterfully shows how a leader like Dr. King and those who worked with him would have not been as effective had it not been for leaders like Dr. Johns, who were willing to "push the envelope". I teach Social Studies at Southern Nash High School in Bailey, North Carolina and I use this film regularly in class and get the best response to it of any of the films I show. In a film career that has featured numerous brilliant performances by Mr. Jones, I believe that this is his best work. The supporting cast of veteran actors Mary Alice, the late Joe Seneca, and a newcomer at the time, Nicole Leach, is top notch and they play effectively off of Jones.
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