Southern Rites

Synopsis: SOUTHERN RITES visits Montgomery County, Ga., one year after the town merged its racially segregated proms, and during a historic election campaign that may lead to its first African-American sheriff. Acclaimed photographer Gillian Laub, whose photos first brought the area unwanted notoriety, documents the repercussions when a white town resident is charged with the murder of a young black man. The case divides locals along well-worn racial lines, and the ensuing plea bargain and sentencing uncover complex truths and produce emotional revelations.
Genre: Documentary
Director(s): Gillian Laub
Production: Get Lifted Film Co.
87 min


(music playing)

Keyke Burns:
The day you

met me, when you asked me,

you know, did I go to

school? Was I in high school,

went to prom together,

I knew what it was about.

And, yes, I was excited,

because finally, you know,

story is getting out,

and hoping for a change

and, you know, I was really excited

and my daddy was really excited.

We was all just excited.

We was just wanted... we really

wanted you to see our side.

I got in a lot of trouble

with some of the students

for trying to integrate it.

They told me, "What are you

doing? It's not the parents."

It is us, we don't want it together

and you need to stop trying

to do this." I got cussed out.

I talked to my boyfriend and I

said, "Let's just go to both."

But when I went to buy the tickets

to the white prom, I was not allowed.

I was told that if my

date was going to be black,

he wouldn't be let in.

So we just went to the black prom.

And I feel like the rest of

the world will look at us like,

"What in the hell? They

go to school together,

they play basketball together,

they cheerlead together.

They're best friends.

You know, it's happening everywhere,

why can't it happen in

a small town like this?"

This community

and this school system

is fine like it is. We

don't want to change it.

We want to live the way

our grandparents lived

and the way our great-grandparents lived.

Why change something that has worked?

Just leave it alone.

And then, even with the little kids

in elementary school, they

pick a black elementary girl

and a white elementary girl.

They even make the

little kids be segregated.

It's so sad, I didn't even notice it.

The little kids don't even know,

but they're making them, you know,

learn that you are black, you are white.

It's sad. I didn't even notice that.

Gillian Laub:
Until just now?

Yeah, I guess I didn't

recognize it till now

that they are actually teaching kids

to be, you know, segregated, to be...

be black, be white. No, be

a color instead of a person.

Be your color, act your

color, know your place.

My grandma told me

red birds and blue birds

don't nest together.

They'd come out with a

red head and a blue ass.

I mean, I just don't feel like it's right,

that's what my grandma told me

and I believe she was right.

- Laub:

- Do not put that in my face.

And the problem is, you are not

supposed to be on school property

- unless you are signed in.

- Oh, okay.

Hey, what newspaper are you with?


What newspaper are you with?

(Laub screaming)

Hey! No, no, no! What are you doing?

- Man:
This is our property.

- Laub:
No, no, no, no!

- Sanders:
You got problems, honey.

- Laub:
I'm sorry, I'll leave.


- (thunder rumbling)



(horn honking)

Calvin Burns:
This is south Georgia.

The further you go north, Atlanta,

everything's pretty well normal.

The further you go south, Miami,

everything's pretty well normal.

This is middle Georgia,

Mount Vernon, Georgia.

Things going to stay the way it is.

It's our heritage, is what it is,

and it's not racist.

It's just the Southern way.

So we start our babies out

hunting and wearing camouflage.

All these people that run around

screaming the Confederate flag is racist...

in my opinion, they're not

stupid, they're ignorant,

because ignorance is the absence

of really knowing what happened.

I'm not going to hide it for nobody.

If I want to show the rebel flag, I'm

going to, because that's my heritage.

Peoples in Michigan, New York,

Virginia, they ain't got a

clue what we talking about.

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Josh Alexander

Josh Alexander is an American songwriter and producer best known for his collaborations with songwriter/producer Billy Steinberg. Their work includes songs for Demi Lovato ("Give Your Heart a Break"), JoJo ("Too Little Too Late"), Nicole Scherzinger ("Don't Hold Your Breath") and t.A.T.u ("All About Us"). more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Southern Rites" STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 25 Oct. 2020. <>.

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