Appears In: School Daze (1988)
The significance of homecoming weekend at a historically black college or university has been well-chronicled, and Spike Lee brought that experience to the big screen with 1988's School Daze. Lee's second feature film highlights the issues between fraternities, sororities, and other students at leading HBCU, Mission College.
With homecoming as the setting, Dap (Lawrence Fishburne), clashes with Dean Big Brother Almighty (Giancarlo Esposito a.k.a Gus Fring), the leader of the elitist Gamma Phi Gamma Fraternity, Inc. The film takes an honest look at many issues within the black community, from skin tone and education equality, to perceived notions of superiority. Lee details how insecurity, assumptions, and jealousy can lead to friction between blacks, and the fight between Dap and his boys and a group of local guys is a perfect example of this. School Daze also shows that, despite all of its prestige, Mission still has administrative issues. Some took offense to Lee's decision to include this in the film, not realizing that depicting both Mission's negatives and positives provided a more accurate portrayal of the HBCU experience.
School Daze also offered a glance at HBCU homecoming traditions, such as the step show, which features the fight between Dap and his friends and the Gammas. There's also the pajama party, a typical hormone-driven undergrad party, soundtracked by E.U.'s live performance of "Da Butt."
The story of Mission College influenced an entire generation, including Alicia Keys (although she attended Columbia), whose video for "Teenage Love Affair" was inspired by School Daze, all the way down to the pajama party. The film's ending, which features Dap screaming "WAAAAKKKKEEE UPPPPPP!" into the camera, may be heavy-handed, but it's still as relevant today as it was 25 years ago.