Spike Lee’s School Daze is hailed by many as a classic, especially within the Black community, but very few people are familiar with the obstacles that Lee endured during the making the film.
While School Daze was set to shoot on location at Lee’s alma mater, Morehouse College, production was changed to Morris Brown College. In a February 2018 interview with Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Lee said colorism played a role in the location change as the president of Morehouse, Hugh Morris Gloster, didn’t the like the casting of the fictional president in the film.
“He said to me, ‘I don’t like the guy you cast as the college president (the late, great Joe Seneca). He looks too much like a sambo,’” Lee stated
“He said that to my face. When he said that, I said, I know what we were doing was right. Because I had the president of Morehouse telling me the man I cast as the president was too dark-skinned.”
Lee later revealed he was not invited back to Morehouse under Gloster’s tenure as president. However, the Morehouse alum got the last laugh as he’s now on the Board of Trustees.
“As a matter of fact, after this film came out, I wasn’t really invited back to Morehouse for several years. Really until the guy that was president left. But now I’m on the Board of Trustees, so it’s been a long while. But that was really hurtful at the time.”
Released in 1988, School Daze was inspired by Lee’s time as an undergraduate student at Morehouse College and stars Tisha Campbell, Giancarlo Esposito and Laurence Fishburne