Reviewed by Lisa Lickel
The Least Among You
"Hopefully stories like this beautifully acted one will continue to shine the light."
The Least Among
You was based on a true story. The producer admits that
after he first read the script, he put it away for ten years. It's a
hard story set during the difficult days of the Civil Rights movement of
the 1960s. Richard Kelly’s (Cedric Sanders)
mother has higher dreams for her son than his white collar computer job
offer. Unbeknownst to him, she applies to a graduate school program on
his behalf, and he was accepted. During the race-based rioting in the Watts
neighborhood of Los Angeles, young African American Richard is reluctantly
involved and arrested. His mother’s influence and lawyer’s
recommendation get Richard parole – as long as he attends the graduate
school program he’s been accepted to and maintains a high grade point.
Graduate school is a free ride – tuition, room and board – which is a great achievement for Richard’s mother, especially with her essay that helped sway the board president’s (William Devane) decision to offer the scholarship.
Unfortunately for Richard, graduate school is at an all-white seminary. Richard doesn’t even know what he believes in, but it isn’t God, particularly the God of the white male seminarians who obviously somehow missed the part about everyone being equal in the eyes of God in their all-white Bible. Richard cannot accept a God who let down the only female professor (Lauren Holly) who once served as a missionary in Africa but whose heart is so bitter it’s all she can do to hold herself together.
Richard's encounters with the black maintenance man (Louis Gossett Jr.) and his Jamaican wife who live in the basement and take him under their wings shows Richard has more of a problem than overcoming prejudice that keeps his grades barely acceptable. His mother is gravely ill and, with no insurance and tiny income, Richard needs to find a way to help. When his friend offers to let him make a drug delivery in exchange for the cash, he agrees. The deal goes way south and eventually Richard must decide whose side he’s on.
During his time at school faith becomes real to Richard. Not even the pretentious mealy-mouthed seminary president nor the despair of the age can keep him from putting his beliefs into practice to help create a better world. Told in occasionally confusing flash back and forward and sideways, the story is a harsh bite of reality for a society that still has a way to go to appreciate each other. Hopefully stories like this beautifully acted one will continue to shine the light.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 Not suitable for young children
Lisa Lickel lives in Wisconsin with her high school teacher husband in a 150-year-old Great Lakes ship captain's house. She is active in more than one historical society, belongs to writing and reading clubs and is the editor in chief of Creative Wisconsin, the magazine of Wisconsin Regional Writers. A graduate of the Christian Writer's Guild, she has written newspaper features and magazine articles, radio theater, and authored several inspirational novels. Find her online at http://lisalickel.com, http://wisconsinauthorreview.blogspot.com, http://reflectionsinhindsight.wordpress.com, and Facebook.
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