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Today back in 1989 Lean On Me debuted in the theaters. The biographical-drama was loosely based on the story of Joe Clark, a high school principal from Paterson, New Jersey who saved a school from being shut down from the state. The film starred then Oscar nominee Morgan Freeman who portrayed “Mr. Clark” as passionate, arrogant, angry, but still likable. The film was met with strong reviews, mainly because of Freeman’s amazing performance.

While the movie was based on the true story of Joe Clark, much of it was fictional. The school was never in threat of being shut down and test scores did not increase, but violence did decrease. Nonetheless, Lean On Me gave an insightful look into urban schools and how they are often ignored by the public school system, given no motivation, funding, or even faith that they can succeed.

The film, which had a predominately African-American cast, was a hit, garnering over five million dollars opening weekend and grossing nearly 32 million dollars. In 1991, Lean On Me won NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Motion Picture and Outstanding Lead Actor.

Check out the clip below for a classic scene from Lean On Me click here.

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