She was a poet, an author, a dancer, a newspaper editor, a college professor and an American icon. Maya Angelou passed away last week and she leaves us as one of the most accomplished writers and titans of literature of her time.
Her book, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, was an autobiographical feature that touched the heart of millions. In addition to her literary works, Maya Angelou also left behind a film legacy. According to her biography website, she appeared in Alex Haley’s “Roots” in 1977 and John Singleton’s “Poetic Justice” in 1993. She directed her first feature film “Down In The Delta” in 1996. Dr. Angelou will certainly be missed.
When I think back to some of the more inspiring and intriguing movies that I’ve seen these last 10-15 years, they’ve all left me wondering to some degree. It could be about the characters, plot development, scene structure, or any other particular overarching themes. “To Sir, With Love 2” left me thinking about not only the importance of teaching, but the type of person depicted to lead a classroom.
“To Sir, With Love 2” was a former Movie of the Month of mine back in July 2003. It stars one of the legendary names in Hollywood cinema, one Sidney Poitier. Poitier was also the star of the original “To Sir, With Love,” which took place in an inner-city London school in the mid-1960s. While the first “To Sir, With Love” was released in 1967, the sequel would not come out until 1996. I can’t recall another series of movies where the sequel came out nearly 30 years following the original.
Unlike Joe Clark in “Lean on Me,” or the motorcycle riding take-no-prisoners Rick Latimer in the 1987 movie “The Principle,” Poitier’s character is far more reserved and tactful. It seems surprising at first that a man who just retired from 30 years of teaching in England, would welcome the duty of educating the toughest students in a nondescript Chicago public school. However, Poitier’s character, Mark Thackeray, does just that.
Thackeray challenges his students to not only think about what makes them who they are, but also consider that they ultimately determine other people’s perceptions about themselves. Now that’s not to say there aren’t some real problems his students are facing, but Thackeray refuses to allow them to use outside influences as an excuse. The entire movie is actually on Youtube and I’ve included some of the more poignant clips below.