film · history

rest in peace


Rest in peace, John Singleton.

johnsingletonpr.jpgI used your Poetic Justice in the classroom on the eve of making a transition into higher education. The twin towers had just fallen. New York City’s Washington Irving High hired me to teach English after I was laid off by BMG Entertainment amid the uncertainty in that day. Students got word of this film about a road trip featuring Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur being shown in my classroom. Because I was still new, I didn’t know who was my student or not my student. I did know I’d run out of chairs. Teachers peeped through the window to see what was going on.

Maya Angelou appeared onscreen. Her poetry – which was in my lesson plan; even then I liked visual cues for teaching – was recited by Justice, the poet-hairdresser played by Jackson.

I am also remembering the first time I saw the film. I was in a loft in Detroit. Greg, a filmmaker-photographer, who worked for the rival newspaper for whom I worked, invited me to see it. I don’t recall being in a movie theatre. It must have been in his loft.

Did he have a preview copy?

We laughed when we saw the waves crash on the shoreline, suggesting what was ahead when Lucky (Shakur) and Justice mended their differences and kissed for the first time. And after Chicago (Joe Torry) got left behind. With his brush.

I also liked seeing Justice and Iesha (Oscar-winning Regina King) clapping and stepping the way girls in my neighborhood did when we were kids (“Shake it to the east…”).

And the sounds of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue blending into the Isley Brothers at the beginning of the movie before Markell (Justice’s boyfriend played by Qtip) was murdered.

I could say more, but will leave it here. Thank you for this film and so many others. I can see the fatigue in your eyes. You told our stories. I can see the fatigue in your eyes.






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