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Spike Lee ’79 Urges Students to Follow Their Passions, Not Their Wallets

By ADD SEYMOUR JR.

Spike Lee ’79 didn’t come to Morehouse to study film. In fact, once he got to college, he had no idea what he wanted to study until he finally realized what he was passionate about.

“At the end of my sophomore year, my adviser told me to think long and hard about choosing a major over the summer, and I said, ‘Why?’ Lee said. “She said ‘because you have exhausted all of your electives.’ When I came back, I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker…I said I was going to do everything possible to become a filmmaker.”

That was just one of the stories Lee told during a two-hour visit to the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel where he met with students and talked about his new film, “Red Hook Summer.”

Hosted by David Wall Rice ’95 and Stephane Dunn, co-directors of the College’s new Cinema, Television and Emerging Media Studies program, the event was an interview and autograph session that also helped promote Lee’s latest “joint.”

The film, which is set in his beloved Brooklyn neighborhood, also has other Morehouse ties. The Morehouse College Glee Club, led by director David Morrow ’80, performed the movie’s final song. Many of the church members in the film are Morehouse and Spelman graduates. And music department chairman Uzee Brown ’72 composed and arranged three spirituals that were sang by the church’s choir.

“I’m really privileged to be involved in this,” said Brown, who also wrote and arranged “I’m Building Me a Home” for Lee’s 1988 film, “School Daze.” “Spike called me and asked very specifically, ‘Uzee, can you give me some arrangements that I can use as part of the congregational kind of presentation in the movie?’ So I said, ‘Sure.’”

While most of the talk was about the film, Lee also gave advice to students who filled the Chapel’s lobby and plaza. Mostly, he urged them to focus on what they wanted to do in school and in life.

“Hopefully, you have not chosen a major based on how much money you think you can make,” Lee said. “That’s a recipe for disaster. While you are here, you should be trying to find out what it is you love. That’s the whole thing about a liberal arts college – you can get exposed to everything here.”

Go to https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151135845274311.469674.316502514310&type=3 to see photos from Lee's appearance.

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