Movie Night Friday – Lean on Me

Good Morning everyone and welcome to another week of Movie Night Friday. Where I present some of my favorite movies and why I love them.


“Lean on Me” is one of my most favorite movies. In fact, as I think about it, this one should have been first! Then again, I’ll probably say the same thing about next week’s pick. This is after all my most favorite movie list.


“Lean on me” (’89) is a movie based on the real life story of a New Jersey High School principle, Joe Clark, who was called in to be principle of East Side High School. A former teacher of the school back in the 60s, the place to which he returns is anything but the way he left it. It is no longer a place of learning, but a place of drug abuse, gang violence, and despair. The premise of Clark’s return is built on the coming closure of the school. If Clark cannot get the children to pass the minimum Basic Skills Test, the school will close.


What I like about the movie is the dramatization of someone who truly cares about his students and their well-being. Joe Clark is a principle, a teacher, and also a father. I also like Clark’s no non sense demeanor. When he steps into the school to find it in such chaos, he focuses his attention on the teachers. He scolds them for their lack of authority and effort in maintaining the school. He does not accept their excuses, nor does he accept their advice; for if they had done it right the first time, he would not be there. His methods are strict yes, and he is in many areas arrogant and in need of a little scolding himself, however, his stern approach is exactly what the school needs. Why is the music teacher preparing her students to perform Mozart at a concert when they can barely read? The school is overrun by students who’ve been there over five years and have no intention of getting an education. As a result, those trouble-makers are thrown out and everyone, from student, to parent, to teacher, to Vice Principle, is held strictly accountable for their actions. Even the school board feels Joe’s rage.

LEAN ON ME, Morgan Freeman, Lynne Thigpen, and cast, 1989.
LEAN ON ME, Morgan Freeman, Lynne Thigpen, and cast, 1989.


But eventually, his unconventional methods lead to a clash with city officials and outraged parents of students who’ve been expelled. One parent in particular is out for Clark’s blood. If only she can be added to the school board to vote Clark out. And when Clark puts chains on the school doors to keep the gang members out, the Fire Marshall warns about the fire hazard, though Clark dismisses his threats. But if the Fire Marshall catches Clark with the chains on the doors however, it won’t be good for him, his students, or the new school he is trying to build from what’s left of the rubble.

Movie Trailer:

Funny Movie Error:

lean-on-me-roof4When Joe Clark is having his talk with Sams on the edge of the roof of the school, Sams is on the right and Clark is on the left (when viewed from the ground). When they’re done talking, Sams turns to his left and walks away – turning to his left would have made him fall off the roof after just a few steps.

LOL! Watch the movie and see if you can catch it!

“What’s your favorite movie? Why do you love it?”


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I write to restore Black Historical Truth for the freedom of all people. Visit me online at and @yecheilyah on IG and Twitter.

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