Scattered to the winds by the 1967 Detroit riots, an unusual group of almost all white, 1960s, grade school classmates reunite at age 46, and discover how each of their lives had been profoundly impacted by their beloved African American teacher, Mr. Bell.
After experiencing some personal mid-life tragedy, producer/director Pamela Peak goes on a quest to find a few of her unusually close grade school classmates from the turbulent and racially-charged 1960s. With the help of her third-grade boyfriend “Timmy”, Pamela locates all 32 members of their unusual class. To her surprise, each member of this dynamic class is just as excited to hear from Pamela, as she is to speak with them.
With each classmate found, the exact words are spoken, “Where is Mr. Bell? He impacted my life more than any other teacher.” The quest to find their beloved Mr. Bell begins. Mr. Bell was a giant of a man in character. He was the first African American teacher they had ever had. He had touched their hearts and minds and shaped their young spirits. When Mr. Bell is found (now close to 70 years old), another miracle of sorts occurs; despite his long career as an educator and principal, he remembers each and every one of them in vivid detail . . . and what they wanted to be when they grew up!
The violence of the 1967 Detroit race-riots impacted their young lives in many ways. They experienced the embracing of new black students into their close-knit class. Through that experience they began to understand the black perspective first-hand. As surrounding violence escalated, Mr. Bells class was scattered, never to see each other again until 35 five years later.
They never knew what losing each other meant to their childhoods until their childhood joy comes flooding back to them as adults. And when they compare notes at almost ½ century into their lives, they realize that their favorite African American teacher (their beloved “Mr. Bell”) had impacted each of their lives and guided them personally in more profound ways than they ever realized.
What started out to be a personal journey of discovery for one woman (Pamela Peak) suddenly touched the hearts of millions across America. On Dr. King’s Birthday in 2004, ABC News presented the story of their emotional reunion honoring their beloved teacher, “Mr. Bell” The timeless lessons of love and nonviolence proved to be as pertinent today as when they were first taught 35 years ago.
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