Cleveland’s Burning : TV Pilot Script

c – 2013 Marilyn Jaye Lewis [formatted by blog, sorry]

                CLEVELAND’S BURNING
                   TEASER/ACT ONE
FADE IN:
TITLE: CLEVELAND, APRIL 1963
EXT. HOUGH AVENUE - DAY
Cloudy. Along the avenue, everything's closed. It's a Sunday afternoon in a blue collar town.
EXT. FAITH BAPTIST CHURCH 
Church is over. The front doors are closed.
INT. FAITH BAPTIST CHURCH 
JOSEPH ROBINSON (18, African-American), still dressed in his church clothes - a small gold cross pinned to his tie. He's in the children's Sunday School room, cleaning it up. 
A noise. He turns to look.
JOSEPH
What are you doing here? I thought you went home.
Upstairs, VERNON ROBINSON (42, African-American), the pastor of the church, is at his desk, finishing last minute business. He still wears his black suit, black shirt, white collar.
ELMIRA KINCAID (late 50s, African-American), the church secretary, pops her head into the pastor's office.
ELMIRA
Bye, now. See you tomorrow.
VERNON
(friendly)
Bye. Enjoy your Sunday - but keep it holy!
ELMIRA
Will do.
Downstairs, MAYBELLENE ANDREWS (17, African-American) still in her church clothes, too, stands just inside the Sunday School room.
JOSEPH
Maybellene, don't start.
MAYBELLENE
You're the one making it like this, Joe. Not me. 
Upstairs in his office, Vernon makes a phone call.
VERNON
(into the phone)
Hello, Mrs. Matthews? It's Pastor Robinson, just checking in about your husband. How is he?
Downstairs, Maybellene stands very close to Joseph. He's not happy, but he doesn't move away either. 
JOSEPH
I've got to study, you know that -
He stops abruptly. Maybellene has touched him in an unexpected way.
JOSEPH (CONT'D)
Don't.
Maybellene is coy.
MAYBELLENE
Don't, what?
Just inside the children's cloakroom, Joseph and Maybellene lean against the cloakroom wall. They kiss passionately - until she gets busy with her hands again.
JOSEPH
Maybellene, stop. Don't do that.
MAYBELLENE
(whispering)
Come on, Joe. Just real quick.
JOSEPH
Are you crazy?
Upstairs, Vernon puts some books away on the shelf behind his desk.
In the cloakroom, Maybellene is trying hard to unzip Joseph's fly. 
Joseph doesn't move away, but he doesn't want his fly down, either.
JOSEPH (CONT'D)
(keeping his voice down)
Come on. We're in church. It's Sunday. Stop.
MAYBELLENE
Then meet me in your basement after dinner. Come on.
JOSEPH
It'll still be Sunday, Maybellene. God's watching us.
MAYBELLENE
Let him watch. It's not like he hasn't seen us before.
Joseph doesn't like the sound of that, but whatever Maybellene is doing with her hands now - Joseph knows that God is seeing it all. Still he doesn't stop her. In fact, he kisses her.
Upstairs, Vernon is in his coat. He is standing at the top of the stairs:
VERNON
(calling down)
Joseph? Son, come on up now. I'm locking up.
In the cloakroom, the young lovers are quickly stunned back to their senses.
VERNON (O.S.) (CONT'D)
(less patient)
Joseph?
Joseph appears at the bottom of the stairs. He's not guilty - he's almost sure of that.
JOSEPH
I'm just locking the back door, Dad. I'll be right up.
EXT. FAITH BAPTIST CHURCH - MOMENTS LATER
On the pavement next to the church building, Maybellene, smoking a cigarette, looks startled. She quickly hides the cigarette behind her back.
Opposite her, CALEB ROBINSON (17, AFRICAN-AMERICAN) is also smoking. His tie is undone, his shirt is unbuttoned at the neck and it is no longer tucked in.
From out of nowhere, Vernon clamps a firm hand on Caleb's shoulder.
VERNON
Put it out, son. Now.
Caleb looks angry. He makes no move to put out his cigarette. 
His father grabs it from him, and stamps it out on the pavement.
VERNON (CONT'D)
Lunch is ready. Let's go. Miss Andrews?
Maybellene tries to hide the fact that she has a mouthful of smoke, but it streams out of her while she talks.
MAYBELLENE
(guilty)
Yes, sir?
VERNON
Are you heading home?
MAYBELLENE
Yes, sir.
VERNON
Well, come on. We'll walk with you.
On the sidewalk, Vernon and Joseph lead, while Maybellene and Caleb fall in behind them. 
Caleb sees that Maybellene is still hiding a lit cigarette. He takes it from her, and falling back even farther from the group, he smokes it behind his father's back, WHILE:
AN UPBEAT ROCK & ROLL SONG SUNG BY A BLACK GIRL-GROUP FROM 1963 BREAKS OUT LOUDLY AND PLAYS THROUGHOUT, AS:
EXT. BIRMINGHAM STREET - DAY

TITLE OVER SILENT BLACK & WHITE NEWSREEL FOOTAGE:
Birmingham, Alabama, April 1963
INT. THE BACKSEAT OF A 1963 PATROL CAR - DAY
A WHITE BIRMINGHAM POLICE CAPTAIN in the driver's seat of the patrol car talks on the car radio.
THE ROCK & ROLL GIRL-GROUP is joined by static from a garbled radio transmission between 2 angry police officers.
EXT. PATROL CAR
Directly in front of the patrol car, REVEREND FRED SHUTTLESWORTH is arguing with A WHITE POLICE OFFICER.
A large crowd of BLACK MEN AND WOMEN, dressed in church clothes, is behind Rev. Shuttlesworth. It's clear they are singing some sort of protest song, not heard over the girl-group's loud singing. 
The police captain gets out of the patrol car.
Police sirens are heard over the radio static and the girl-group AS:
- More Birmingham police cruisers arrive
- WHITE BIRMINGHAM POLICE OFFICERS circle the crowd with police dogs pulling on tight leather leashes
- Police officers with billy clubs beat viciously on unarmed men and women
- Violent pandemonium breaks out in Birmingham              
END SILENT NEWSREEL FOOTAGE
SIRENS AND POLICE TRANSMISSIONS FADE AWAY.
The girl-group now sounds like it is coming from the AM station of an old transistor radio. AS:
EXT. HOUGH AVENUE, CLEVELAND - EARLY MORNING
BACK TO FULL COLOR
Litter blows along the gutter. A FEW BLACK MEN mill about on the otherwise empty street at dawn. The street is lined with old brick buildings from the 1920s: 
- A bar with a lit neon sign in its window: Genesee On Tap
- A laundromat next to a Woolworth's Five & Dime
- A donut shop; A BLACK MAN is inside, making the coffee, listening to the girl-group on the AM radio
- A hardware store with 2 framed photos propped in the front window: 1 of President Kennedy; 1 of the young champion boxer, Cassius Clay [aka Muhammad Ali]. This is next door to:
- Faith Baptist Church.
INT. ROBINSONS' BATHROOM
Joseph is at the small sink. He is dressed for classes at the Cleveland Christian Seminary - a modest suit and tie.
While he brushes his teeth, he dances the Hully Gully to the girl-group coming from a transistor radio propped on the towel bar. 
He's an excellent dancer, even while brushing his teeth. 
EXT. HOUGH AVENUE
The song on the radio now comes from the radio in the dashboard of a milk truck, AS:
MARTIN, a MIDDLE-AGED WHITE MAN, drives a milk truck up Hough Avenue. The logo on the truck reads: MORNINGSIDE DAIRY. At the light, the milk truck turns right onto E. 93rd.
EXT. ROBINSONS' HOUSE
The sound of the radio fades but doesn't end.
A brick up & down duplex from the 1920s.
Martin walks up the Robinsons' back porch steps. He opens the milk chute and takes out 2 empty milk bottles.
SARAH ROBINSON (68, African-American), already up and dressed, pushes open the screen door and steps out onto the back porch.
The sound of the radio comes from inside the kitchen.
The milkman hands 2 new bottles of milk to Sarah.
MILKMAN
Morning, Mrs. Robinson.
SARAH
Morning. Thank you, Martin.
INT. ROBINSONS' BATHROOM
The song ends.
RADIO ANNOUNCER
That was [girl-group from 1963] burning up the charts with their smash hit, [title of hit song]. Now give me a smile and don't touch that dial, Cleveland! You are tuned to WIXY 1260... [pronounced: "whiksee twelve sixty"]
Joseph pins his tie pin -- the simple gold cross -- to his tie.
Regarding himself in the mirror, he regretfully slides the radio dial to a Christian broadcast. He lowers the volume. Regarding himself in the mirror, he quietly recites:
JOSEPH
There are three dimensions of sanctification. Can you tell us what they are, Mr. Robinson?
While reciting, Joseph moves to the small bathroom window. It's open. 3 feet away is the window of the duplex next door.
JOSEPH (CONT'D)
The first dimension is God's gift of a new identity in Jesus Christ. And the second is?
Maybellene stands in front of her bathroom window next door. She's in a cute nightie, brushing her teeth. 
Joseph stares out his window at Maybellene in her nightie. 
She smiles at Joseph and waves. He turns away.
Joseph realizes he's lost his place in his memorized lessons. 
JOSEPH (CONT'D)
And the second dimension is, is -- 
BAM BAM BAM
There is an impatient banging on the bathroom door.
Joseph opens it.
Caleb is still in his pajamas. 
Joseph moves past him out to the hall. 
JOSEPH (CONT'D)
(joking but maybe not)
This is the day the Lord hath made, Caleb! Let us rejoice and be glad in it. 
CALEB
It's a little early for the Reverend Joe show.
He goes into the bathroom and shuts the door -- hard.
Caleb goes to the transistor radio and tunes the dial back to the rock & roll station. A lively rock & roll song plays.
Caleb stands at the toilet and uses it. Absently, he stares out the small window.
Maybellene reappears in her own bathroom window, still in her nightie. She sees Caleb looking in her direction and pulls down the window shade.
INT. ROBINSONS' HALLWAY/JUDITH'S BEDROOM
In the hall, Joseph passes his little sister's room and sees JUDITH (8, African-American) still in her pajamas, sitting on the side of her bed.
JOSEPH
Hey, little girl. Better get a move on. You're going to miss breakfast. 
Judith looks at him and doesn't move.
Joseph continues down the short hallway to the kitchen.
RUTH ROBINSON (38, African-American) is up and dressed - has been for awhile. She's at Judith's doorway again.
RUTH
Judith, I mean it -- off that bed. Now. If you miss that bus, how are you going to get to school?
JUDITH
I don't want to go to school.
RUTH
Not again, Judith. I'm not going through this every morning. You are going to school.
Caleb comes out of the bathroom into the hall, wearing only a towel around his waist. 
RUTH (CONT'D)
Caleb, where is your bathrobe?
CALEB
In my room.
Caleb goes into the room he shares with Joseph and shuts the door.
INT. JOSEPH AND CALEB'S BEDROOM
Joseph's bed is perfectly made. Caleb's bed is thrown together. The bath towel is in a heap on his bed.
Caleb is almost done dressing for school. He opens his dresser drawer, takes out a pullover shirt and pulls it on.
Hidden under the pile of folded shirts, he retrieves a very nice gold-plated Zippo lighter.
FLASHBACK - BEHIND STRIP JOINT:
EXT. ALLEY BEHIND STRIP JOINT - NIGHT
ADA (28, African-American), very sexy but classy, holds a cigarette to her lips, expecting a light from Caleb. She's about to get into her car, the driver's side door is open.
Caleb stares at her; smitten. She's so good-looking.
Ada hands him her own lighter, the gold-plated Zippo, and he lights her cigarette. She smiles. He hands it back to her.
ADA
Keep it. I'll see you around, honey.
Ada gets into her car. Caleb stands there, watching her, holding her lighter.
ADA (CONT'D)
(friendly, sweet)
You take care of yourself, you hear?
END FLASHBACK - BEHIND STRIP JOINT
Caleb hides the lighter back in the drawer. He looks at himself in the mirror.
INT. ROBINSONS' KITCHEN
Sarah is at the stove, cooking in the cramped kitchen. 
Judith is finally dressed. She sits at the table but picks at her food.
At the small counter, while putting Judith's lunch in a lunchbox, Ruth looks unhappy and lost in thought.
The kitchen radio plays quietly. The radio station recaps the morning news:
RADIO ANNOUNCER
There's more trouble in Birmingham, Alabama this morning, as the Reverend Martin Luther King sends out an urgent plea for additional funds to help bail his protestors out of jail --
Ruth turns off the radio.
Caleb comes into the kitchen. Sarah hands him a plate with a hot breakfast on it.
CALEB
Morning, Grandma. Thank you.
SARAH
You're welcome.
Caleb sits down at the table next to Judith. He sees she's unhappy.
CALEB
(to Judith)
Hey - morning. 
No response.
CALEB (CONT'D)
(concerned)
What's up with you?
Judith stares at him intensely.
He leans closer to her.
CALEB (CONT'D)
What is it?
JUDITH
(whispers)
White people are scary.
Caleb is not expecting that. He glances at his mother, his grandmother, then looks back at his sister - he is the only one who's heard what she's said.
Vernon comes into the kitchen and kisses Ruth good-morning. He wears a black suit, white shirt. A small gold cross on a chain is around his neck. 
VERNON
Morning, Ruth. Morning, family.
Caleb stands up abruptly.
CALEB
Bye. I'm going to school.
VERNON
Son, where are your books?
CALEB
At school.
He heads for the kitchen door that leads to the backstairs.
VERNON
Son, I'm talking to you. Don't walk away.
Caleb manages to stand still.
VERNON (CONT'D)
You show some respect, Caleb. I mean it. And no smoking today. You're a preacher's son. Whether you like it or not.
Caleb stares at him.
VERNON (CONT'D)
Do you hear me?
CALEB
Yes.
VERNON
Yes, what?
CALEB
I hear you.
RUTH
(trying to intercede)
Cal...
VERNON
(losing patience)
Yes, what?
Caleb turns and heads out the kitchen door.
CALEB
Sir.
Caleb is down the backstairs.
VERNON
(to Ruth)
It's 7 o'clock in the morning! Is he on some mission to ruin my entire day?
Sarah stands next to Vernon, handing him a plate with his breakfast on it. She stares at him.
VERNON (CONT'D)
(to Sarah)
What? What, mom?
SARAH
You were 17 once, too.
Vernon takes his plate and sits down at the table.
VERNON
I was never as disrespectful as that boy is to me.
SARAH
Your daddy might remember it different - that's all I'm gonna say about that.
Sarah and Ruth exchange a smile.
EXT. ROBINSONS' BACKYARD
The Robinsons' old, detached garage. They do not own a car; the garage is used for storage.
Caleb walks along the side of the garage and sees the side door of it is slightly ajar.
Joseph pulls open the door.
JOSEPH
Why are you leaving so early?
CALEB
(disgusted)
He was gonna get started again. I could just tell. What are you doing?
JOSEPH
Thinking.
Caleb goes inside the garage with Joseph.
At the bedroom window of the upstairs duplex, FRANKLIN ROBINSON (70, African-American), in a tee shirt and boxer shorts, a small gold cross on a chain around his neck, looks out the window.
INT. FRANKLIN & SARAH'S BEDROOM
Franklin has just gotten out of bed. Looking out the window, Franklin sees his 2 grandsons go into the old garage. 
He shakes his head.
INT. ROBINSONS' GARAGE
The garage is filled with stuff but it's tidy. 
Joseph and Caleb stand by the small back window; it's open.
Caleb takes a cigarette from his pack and then offers one to Joseph, who takes it. They light up.
JOSEPH
She's at it again.
CALEB
Maybellene?
JOSEPH
Yeah. She's like the moon, or something. She goes, then she comes back around. I do not want to get married.  
CALEB
(taken aback)
She wants to get married?
JOSEPH
No, but I can't keep doing that stuff if I'm not married. 
CALEB
Just try to be careful.
JOSEPH
What does that mean?
CALEB
So she doesn't get knocked-up.
JOSEPH
I meant my vows. I took some vows when I went into the Seminary, Cal. I'm going to be a preacher. I can't be having sex if I'm not married.
CALEB
I know, but, I mean - you're also smoking and you can't do that...
JOSEPH
(irritated with himself)
I know. But it's not the same weight - you know? (beat) I just don't get her. Girls aren't supposed to want that stuff.
CALEB
Girls want everything. There's nothing wrong with that.
Caleb blows his smoke out the open window.
FLASHBACK - STRIP JOINT 
INT. STRIP JOINT - NIGHT
A very makeshift dressing room. On an old couch. Ada's hair is a little mussed but she's still sexy as hell.
Caleb lies on top of her on the couch. They're probably naked, considering what they're doing.
ADA
(very sweetly, in control)
Go on, it's all right - do it.
Caleb does it.
END FLASHBACK - STRIP JOINT
EXT. ROBINSONS' BACKYARD
Caleb heads to the back alley, going off to school.
Joseph heads towards the back porch. On the porch up above, he sees Franklin in his robe, looking down at him.
FRANKLIN
Morning, son.
JOSEPH
(guilty)
Hey, grandpa.
FRANKLIN
Come on up. (beat) Come on. It's still early. I want to have a talk with you.
JOSEPH
What did you want to talk about?
FRANKLIN
Just come on up.
INT. ROBINSONS' BACKSTAIRS
Joseph climbs the backstairs to the duplex above. He hopes he can explain himself - for what, he's not sure.
INT. FRANKLIN & SARAH'S HOME
At the landing, the back door is propped open, as always.
Joseph walks through the small kitchen to the hall and then down to his grandparents' bedroom. 
JOSEPH
Hey, Grandpa.
EXT. ROBINSONS' FRONT PORCH
Ruth hands Judith her lunchbox and kisses her goodbye.
RUTH
Be a good girl and mind Mrs. Jackson. And you say grace before lunch, you hear me? I don't care what the other kids do; Jesus has got his eye on you.
Judith unhappily walks down the front steps.
JUDITH
(under her breath)
I don't think Jesus comes anywhere near that school.
RUTH
What did you say?
JUDITH
Nothing.
Ruth stares after Judith as if she heard every word.
INT. SARAH & FRANKLIN'S BEDROOM
Franklin is getting dressed. A retired minister, his clothes are casual but his appearance is still meticulous.
FRANKLIN
Son, I need your help - we gotta work on your daddy. I don't want him avoiding this Birmingham problem.
Joseph is relieved it isn't some other topic.
JOSEPH
He won't mix his sermons with politics - you know that.
FRANKLIN
It's not politics. It's human beings.
Joseph looks doubtful.
FRANKLIN (CONT'D)
What it is, Joe? You're not having second thoughts?
JOSEPH
A lot of people got hurt in Birmingham. I'm not so sure they did do the right thing.
FRANKLIN
Listen, son. Love is very, very tough. Love can always get back up. We need to support those people - help them get back up. We need your daddy to talk about this next Sunday. Don't give up. You aren't even ordained yet - you have no idea what love is going to ask of you down the road. You've got to be tough - as love is tough, as Jesus is tough.
JOSEPH
(giving in)
All right. I'm still with you. But I have to go now. I'll be late.
Joseph turns to leave the bedroom.
FRANKLIN
(he knows the deal)
If I were you, I'd go down the backstairs and head straight to the bus stop - you smell a little like a pool hall. I don't think your mama will like that.
JOSEPH
(caught)
I was just talking with Cal...
FRANKLIN
I'm sure you were. Get it together, Joe. People are already looking up to you. They need to see the way.
Guilty. Joseph has no reply.
INT. CITY BUS
Joseph stands at the back of the bus. The seats at the back are crowded with OLDER BLACK PEOPLE, going to work. The front of the bus has A FEW WHITES and many empty seats.
Joseph watches out the window as the poor city streets of Cleveland's East Side Corridor go past.
INT. YELLOW SCHOOL BUS
Young BLACK CHILDREN are on the schoolbus.
Judith leans her head against the bus window. A nice middle class white neighborhood goes by outside the window.
EXT. ROBINSONS' HOUSE
Vernon walks down the front porch steps, walking to work.
EXT. HOUGH NEIGHBORHOOD/E. 93RD STREET
Vernon turns onto Hough Avenue, heading to Faith Baptist Church. 
On the sidewalk are TWO BLACK BOYS, Caleb's age. They are smoking and shooting the breeze.
VERNON
You're late for school, boys.
The boys ignore him.
As Vernon enters the front door of his church, he hears a rock shattering a nearby window. He glances around. 
The boys stare at him, blankly.
EXT. ROBINSONS' FRONT PORCH  - SAME MORNING
ESTHER TIBBS, MAXINE WALKER, and SIMON KING (all mid-30s, African-American, nicely dressed) walk up the Robinsons' front steps and onto the porch.
Simon rings the bell.
Sarah opens the front door and greets them.
INT. ROBINSONS' FRONT ROOM
The visitors sit down tentatively on the sofa.
SARAH
You make yourselves at home.
INT. JUDITH'S BEDROOM
Sarah finds Ruth in Judith's bedroom, making Judith's bed.
RUTH
Who was it at the door, Grandma?
SARAH
You got some visitors.
RUTH
I do? Church people?
SARAH
Yes -- Maxine Walker, Esther Tibbs, and Simon King. 
RUTH
(suspicious)
Did they say what they wanted?
SARAH
It's about the United Freedom Movement.
RUTH
Not that again. I told them I could not get involved in their politics.
INT. ROBINSONS' FRONT ROOM
Ruth puts on a friendly face as she enters the front room. Simon stands up politely.
RUTH
Simon, please sit. Excuse my appearance.
ESTHER
Mrs. Robinson, you look just fine. We apologize for this unexpected visit.
Sarah comes into the room to listen.
RUTH
Grandma told me this has something to do with the United Freedom Movement.
MAXINE
It does.
RUTH
I told you in church yesterday that Vernon is opposed to mixing religion with politics.
SIMON
But this is about that new school.
ESTHER
We just wanted to make sure you were aware of the situation there. 
MAXINE
It affects your daughter -- it affects all our kids.
Ruth sits down. They have her attention.
RUTH
I know Judith is unhappy; it's been a big change for her.
ESTHER
Point blank, Mrs. Robinson: It's a segregated school. 
RUTH
No, it's not. Our children are right there with the white kids.
SIMON
I'm afraid it's not like that.
INT. JANITOR'S UTILITY ROOM - SAME MORNING
Black kids sit silently at desks packed in tight rows in a janitor's utility room. There are cinder block walls and a cement floor. Overhead is a harsh fluorescent tube. 
MRS. JACKSON (30, African-American), their teacher, writes on a portable chalkboard. AS:
INT. ROBINSONS' FRONT ROOM
SIMON
Our children are not allowed to use any room in that building if the white kids use it. 
MAXINE
Not the lunch room, not the gymnasium, not the classrooms.
RUTH
The classrooms?
SIMON
They're all wedged into a janitor's utility room all day.
ESTHER
Even though several of the classrooms in that brand new school are sitting empty.
SARAH
But they're being bused all the way to that school because there were empty classrooms.
Ruth sits, stunned. AS:
INT. JUDITH'S SCHOOL
The WHITE JANITOR (60) leans on his push broom in the sunny hallway and stares at Judith, who needs to use the toilet.
JANITOR
The sign on that door says "janitor," little girl, not "pickaninnies." That's my bathroom.
Judith stares up at him, afraid to move. AS:
INT. ROBINSONS' FRONT ROOM
MAXINE
And they can only use the janitor's toilet. Not the nice clean lavatories the other kids use.
SIMON
We plan to picket the school board.
MAXINE
A peaceful demonstration.
ESTHER
Direct Action -- like the Reverend King suggests.
RUTH
But they had police dogs attacking those people in Birmingham.
SIMON
This is not Birmingham, Mrs. Robinson. This is Cleveland. It will be a peaceful protest by the UFM, outside the school board.
RUTH
If the UFM has already decided to do this, why tell me?
ESTHER
You're the minister's wife. If you'd join us, it would make quite an impact.
RUTH
Join you? I can't possibly...
SIMON
The other parents would sign up right away. Don't you see? You could really help us and help your daughter. It'll only take an hour.
Ruth looks to Sarah for help.
SARAH
(compassionate)
I know what I'd do, but you're the minister's wife now, Ruth. My time is over.
RUTH
But Grandma, Vernon won't like this. Not at all.
SARAH
There's a lot he doesn't like - I know that; he's my son. And Judith is your daughter.
They all look at her expectantly - even Sarah.
RUTH
(appalled)
Are you saying I'm supposed to choose? My husband or my daughter? 
SARAH
It'll be us against him. It's worth a try, Ruth. It's your daughter.


END OF ACT ONE
ACT TWO
EXT. ROBINSONS' FRONT PORCH - MORNING
Joseph comes out the front door. He is dressed for the Seminary. Franklin is behind him.
FRANKLIN
Don't go angry like this.
JOSEPH
(angry)
I'm not angry. I'm late for class. I've got to go, Grandpa. I've said all I could say.
He heads down the front stairs. Franklin watches him go. 
Maybellene, carrying her books, hurries down her front porch steps. She's dressed for school.
MAYBELLENE
Joe, wait! I'll walk to the bus stop with you!
JOSEPH
(angry at her now, too)
Maybellene, I'm late. Why aren't you at school?
MAYBELLENE
I was waiting for you.
She tries to keep pace with him as he heads to the corner to catch the city bus.
JOSEPH
Why?
MAYBELLENE
Don't be so mad. I just wanted to see you.
JOSEPH
You're seeing me. Here I am. Is that worth another 'tardy' on your attendance record?
Now she's mad, too. She forces him to stand still.
MAYBELLENE
Cut it out. You're not my dad, you know. I just want to talk to you. 
JOSEPH
You better not say what I think you're going to say.
They both see the city bus come to a stop at the empty corner. It's too far to make it, even if he ran. The bus pulls away.
They stare at each other. 
A light spring rain begins to fall.
JOSEPH (CONT'D)
This better be good.
MAYBELLENE
Just never mind. I gotta go to school.
She leaves him. 
He stares after her, dumbstruck. Alone in the drizzling rain.
INT. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL GYMNASIUM
Mrs. Jackson stands inside the doors to the gym. A small group of young black schoolchildren stands behind her. Judith is among them.
MRS. JACKSON
But the playground is wet. It's raining out. I'm still waiting on one more bus to arrive.
A WHITE MALE GYM TEACHER (40s) stands menacingly close to Mrs. Jackson.
GYM TEACHER
(irate, shouting)
This is for white kids. Negroes are not allowed in this gymnasium!
For emphasis, the gym teacher pokes Mrs. Jackson's shoulder so fiercely that she loses her balance. 
MRS. JACKSON
Oh my goodness...
Grabbing the shoulders of the small children around her is all that keeps her from gracelessly tumbling to the floor.
A WHITE MALE PRINCIPAL (40s) hurries into the gym. He goes to the aid of the gym teacher.
PRINCIPAL
(shouting)
Chuck, what is going on in here? We can hear you clear out in the hall.
INT. FAITH BAPTIST CHURCH 
Elmira sits at her desk, typing. Glances at the clock on the wall: 8:45
The phone rings.
ELMIRA
Faith Baptist Church, good morning. No, Reverend Miller, I'm afraid Pastor Robinson is out. Yes. I sure will - yes. God bless.
She hangs up the phone. Looks at the clock on the wall. 
INT. ROBINSONS' HOUSE
In the kitchen, Sarah slowly washes the breakfast dishes at the sink. She listens intently to the argument coming from the bedroom.
Franklin sits at the kitchen table and also listens.
VERNON  (O.C.)
(angry)
I am really late for work now. I'm done discussing this, Ruth. 
RUTH (O.C.)
(angry)
I'm not. You can't just be 'done discussing this' simply because I don't agree with you. I am going to do the UFM protest.
INT. RUTH AND VERNON'S BEDROOM
VERNON 
Don't defy me, Ruth. 
RUTH 
Defy you?! I'm not a child.
VERNON
No, you're my wife - and you're a minister's wife. We need to be a team, here.
RUTH
Why can't we be a team about something that I believe? I'm trying to do something for my daughter here.
VERNON
She's our daughter. And it's my church now - not my father's. I don't care what he and Joe say about Martin Luther King, it won't fly with me, Ruth. I don't mix politics with my church. My father did and what did it get him? Nothing but violence.
RUTH
This is not the KKK we're talking about here, Vernon. It's Martin Luther King.
INT. ROBINSONS' KITCHEN
VERNON (O.C.)
(angry)
It amounts to the same thing - 
Sarah and Franklin glance at each other intently. AS:

FLASHBACK MUNCIE, INDIANA 1923 - NIGHT
SERIES OF SHOTS w/V.O.
- Outside of Franklin's small Baptist church, 3 crosses are in flames
VERNON (V.O.)
- a bunch of innocent, church-going people get hurt because some goddamn Southern minister - just like my own father was - 
- Young Franklin and Sarah, clutching a 3-YEAR-OLD VERNON, flee as jeering KLANSMEN riding in open Model T's and waving flaming torches, chase them down a dark dirt road.  
VERNON (V.O.)
- gets it into his head that he can change the goddamn world!
END FLASHBACK MUNCIE, INDIANA 1923
Sarah sits down at the table with Franklin. 
RUTH  (O.C.)
Vernon! You watch your language. 
INT. ROBINSONS' HALLWAY
Vernon goes out angrily into the hallway, followed by Ruth.
VERNON
I apologize for speaking that way, but I've simply got to go. And my answer is still no.
RUTH
And I'm still going!
They stare each other down in the hallway.
VERNON
Ruth, don't defy me...
She does not reply.
EXT. CLEVELAND CHRISTIAN SEMINARY 
An old brick seminary on a very small urban campus. A few YOUNG BLACK MEN in suits and ties are entering and exiting the building.
A sign in front reads: CLEVELAND CHRISTIAN SEMINARY
INT. CLEVELAND CHRISTIAN SEMINARY
In the school chapel, Joseph and a scattering of BLACK MALE STUDENTS sit alone in the pews and pray.
Joseph exits the chapel. Runs right into A PROFESSOR (40 African-American). 
PROFESSOR
Mr. Robinson, we missed you in class. Is everything all right?
JOSEPH
I'm just praying my way through it.
PROFESSOR
Sometimes prayer and a little bit of talking makes a good combination. Want to walk me to my office?
Joseph hesitates, but then walks with the professor down the quiet hall.
EXT. CALEB'S HIGH SCHOOL 
The rain has stopped. SEVERAL BLACK TEENAGE BOYS, including Caleb, are rough-housing outside the high school. 
The school is an impressive three-story brick building, built in the 1920s. Solidly built, it is still in good condition.
The rough-housing boys are all smoking, killing time, until:
A BELL RINGS.
Most of the boys go back inside. Caleb and RAY and PERCY (both 17, African-American) walk away from the building.
INT. CLEVELAND CHRISTIAN SEMINARY
Joseph and the professor walk down the hallway. 
PROFESSOR
Your father has a good strong congregation. Clearly, he knows what they want.
JOSEPH
But it's members of the congregation who've persuaded my mother to protest with the UFM.
PROFESSOR
I see.
JOSEPH
My grandfather and I just want him to at least acknowledge what happened in Birmingham. Talk to our congregation. Stop wearing those blinders.
PROFESSOR
Are they blinders, or a decision he reached in prayer?
JOSEPH
I don't remember the last time I saw him pray...
PROFESSOR
Mr. Robinson. I would be hard-pressed to believe your father doesn't pray. In private. As Jesus instructed us from the Mount.
JOSEPH
(disengaging)
Sure - you're right. He probably prays all the time. In private.
EXT. CALEB'S SCHOOL/STREET
Caleb, Ray, and Percy play hookey.
RAY
(to Caleb)
I am telling you, man, you gotta come out with us. There are these girls -- tell him, Percy.
PERCY
There are these girls (he motions they have big breasts)
Caleb picks up a small rock and throws it hard.
A sign reads: TEACHERS' PARKING LOT.
Caleb's rock lands in the parking lot, but misses the cars.
CALEB
What would I want to see a bunch of strippers for?
PERCY
Man, who doesn't want to see them?
Percy and Ray laugh.
FLASHBACK - STRIP JOINT AT NIGHT/2
EXT. STRIP JOINT - NIGHT
Ada, the headliner from out of town, shows up for work. From the noise inside the strip joint, it's clear some local strippers are already on stage.
Caleb stands in front of the strip joint, looking at Ada's provocative photo in the front window, not knowing she's behind him.
ADA
(flirting)
Why don't you come on in? They'll only serve you a Coca-Cola but you look old enough to watch.
Caleb recognizes Ada from the photo. He's awestruck.
END FLASHBACK - STRIP JOINT AT NIGHT/2
The boys are off the school grounds and heading for an old abandoned garage on the same street.
CALEB
I don't need to see a bunch of strippers.
RAY
It's your loss, man. Some of those gals who come through town are really fine.
Caleb glances at Ray - his expression an unreadable wall.
The boys throw rocks at what's left of the windows of the old garage.
PERCY
There was this one girl last night. She could really dance.
RAY
(throwing a rock aggressively)
She was practically naked by the time the song was over. 
One of the old windows shatters.
PERCY
(laughing)
Just like your girl, Cal.
The boys move along down the street.
CALEB
(a little alarmed)
My girl?
PERCY
(teasing him)
You remember last summer -- Maybellene. And you and Reverend Joe.
RAY
The private striptease she gave you in her bedroom window.
CALEB
She's not my girl.
RAY
You kissed her in the 5th grade.
CALEB
I did a lot of stupid things in the 5th grade.
The boys stop now at a filling station.
PERCY
Maybellene is pretty. But obviously a virgin. No action there.
CALEB
(blankly)
I wouldn't know. 
RAY
She's all lovey-dovey about Reverend Joe - she'd have to be a virgin to be after your brother.
They go inside the filling station office. It's deserted. 
CALEB
I guess so. I think he's saving himself for God and marriage.
The boys laugh.
PERCY
You live around too many preachers, man.
RAY
I'm not saving myself for anything - as soon as I get a chance to unload it, it's gone, man. I don't care who the girl is; all she's gotta do is say yes.
PERCY
I almost lost it last summer - that girl Viola. But her dad came downstairs. I never moved so fast in my life.
Caleb buys a pack of cigarettes from the cigarette machine.
RAY
What about you, Cal? You saving yourself?
CALEB
No.
He doesn't elaborate.
A transistor radio is playing in the office. The news is on the radio. No one pays attention to it.
RADIO ANNOUNCER
...However, white business owners and Birmingham city officials are unwilling to negotiate with the protesters. In other related news, US Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy has appointed Burke Marshall as his Chief Civil Rights Assistant...
Caleb lights a cigarette as the boys go back outside.
They stomp on the black driveway hose, making the electric bell ring over and over.
THE ATTENDANT (African-American male) comes out from the garage.
FILLING STATION ATTENDANT
You boys! Stop ringing that thing! And YOU -- you can't smoke around here. You'll blow us all sky high.
As the boys amble off, Percy grabs a discarded umbrella from the ground and with menacing force, shoves the battered umbrella into a display rack of motor oil, sending the cans clattering to the pavement.
FILLING STATION ATTENDANT (CONT'D)
HEY!
He angrily chases the laughing boys off the property.
EXT. ROBINSONS' FRONT PORCH - LATER
Franklin sits on the old glider on the front porch.
A yellow school bus drives off down the street.
Judith walks up the front porch steps, carrying her lunchbox.
FRANKLIN
Good afternoon, little girl. How was school today?
JUDITH
Terrible.
Judith sits down on the glider next to her grandfather.
INT. WOOLWORTH'S FIVE & DIME 
Maybellene places a 45 RPM on the checkout counter.
The CLERK (female, African-American) rings her up.
CLERK
78 cents, please.
Maybellene counts out 78 cents. She glances out the window. The city bus pulls to a stop. 
EXT. HOUGH AVENUE
Joseph is among the people getting off the bus.
Maybellene hurries to the bus stop.
MAYBELLENE
Hey, Joe!
Joseph does not look happy to see her.
JOSEPH
Hi, Maybellene.
They both cross the street.
MAYBELLENE
You going home?
JOSEPH
Yes.
MAYBELLENE
Good! I'll walk with you, okay? Look what I just bought.
Maybellene slides the 45 RPM out of a paper bag.
JOSEPH
You're always spending your money on such crazy stuff, Maybellene. Why don't you save your money?
MAYBELLENE
But it's our song -- look!
Joseph stops in his tracks and looks at her.
JOSEPH
We don't have a song, Maybellene.
Maybellene stops, too.
MAYBELLENE
Sure we do. Look here. Remember?
He takes the 45 RPM from her and reads the label. What he reads there makes him look uncomfortable.
MAYBELLENE (CONT'D)
It's our song, from Christmas vacation.
JOSEPH
If you're going to spend your money on records, why don't you at least buy something more inspiring.
Joseph hands the record back to Maybellene and starts walking again. She keeps up with him. They turn onto E. 93rd Street.
MAYBELLENE
You want to come over to my house? We can play the record.
JOSEPH
I have to study, Maybellene. You know that.
MAYBELLENE
God would probably think it was okay if you took time out to listen to a song that only lasts 2 minutes and 36 seconds.
JOSEPH
I happen to enjoy studying.
MAYBELLENE
You enjoy other things, too, Joseph. Don't forget -- that's something I know all about. 3,4,5 times.
Joseph takes her arm and pulls her to a stop.
JOSEPH
(quietly)
When are you going to let it go? I've got serious things to do now. 
MAYBELLENE
(frustrated)
What makes you such a big shot now? Just because you're going to be a preacher?
JOSEPH
I'm not a big shot. It's just that so many changes are happening in the world and when I'm ready for my ministry, I want to be a part of it -- like the Reverend King is. I know what you want, Maybellene, and I'm not ready to get married yet. 
MAYBELLENE
Married? Who said anything about getting married?
Caleb turns onto E. 93rd Street. He sees Joseph and Maybellene up ahead, arguing.
JOSEPH
All that stuff you're wanting me to do; I can't keep doing it - it's for married people.
MAYBELLENE
Kissing is for married people?
JOSEPH
Kissing is not what I'm talking about. Don't play dumb. I know what you want.
MAYBELLENE
And you don't want it?
JOSEPH
(getting angry)
I do, but I can't.
Joseph and Maybellene, standing too close together, stare each other down. The sexual energy between them is building.
Caleb comes up behind them on the sidewalk.
CALEB
Hey, love birds. Don't mind me.
Seeing Caleb, Maybellene abruptly hurries away. 
JOSEPH
(to Caleb) Where did you come from? (to Maybellene) Maybellene, wait.
She hurries up her front walk and up her front porch steps.
CALEB
Let her go, Reverend Joe.
JOSEPH
Stop calling me that!
INT. JOSEPH & CALEB'S BEDROOM
Joseph comes into the bedroom and shuts the door.
He removes his suit jacket, his tie. Takes off his shirt. A small gold cross is on a chain around his neck.
In his undershirt and trousers, he sits down at the foot of the bed and stares out the open window. He can see Maybellene's room. It's empty.
FLASHBACK - CALEB, JOSEPH & MAYBELLENE LAST SUMMER
INT. JOSEPH & CALEB'S BEDROOM - NIGHT
A hot night. At the open window, Caleb sits at the desk. Joe sits on his bed. Sexy soul music suddenly comes from Maybellene's open window.
CALEB
Jesus Christ, Joe -- look.
Joseph looks up and sees Maybellene leaning on her windowsill in just her bra and panties.
END FLASHBACK - CALEB, JOSEPH & MAYBELLENE LAST SUMMER
Caleb flings open the bedroom door and comes into the room.
CALEB (CONT'D)
You waiting on heaven?
JOSEPH
What?
CALEB
On heaven -- are you waiting for Maybellene to get naked in that window again?
Caleb starts to change out of his school clothes.
JOSEPH
Just shut up.
CALEB
You ought to learn how to have a little more fun, Reverend Joe.
JOSEPH
And you smell like a pool hall. What do you think Mama's going to say when she smells all that cigarette smoke?
CALEB
She'll tell me to quit smoking, I guess. Hey -- there's your girl, Joe. Look.
Joseph looks and can see Maybellene in her room.
Maybellene sees Joseph and Caleb. She comes over to her window, opens it and leans out. She holds up the 45 RPM.
MAYBELLENE
It's still our song. And I can play it all night long if I want to.
CALEB
(baiting Joseph)
Does this mean we're gonna get another striptease?
JOSEPH
Shut up, Cal.
Maybellene leaves her window. A soulful sexy song comes from Maybellene's record player. AS:
Joseph abruptly gets up off the bed and leaves the room.
CALEB
(calling after him)
Jesus, Joe. I was just kidding.
INT. ROBINSONS' BATHROOM
Joseph still hears the record coming through the open window.
FLASH BACK - CHRISTMAS VACATION
INT. ROSBINSONS' BASEMENT - NIGHT
A small transistor radio quietly plays the same soulful song. Joseph lies on top of Maybellene on some old blankets in a corner of the dark basement. They're mostly dressed.
Maybellene's expression is brave - she's enduring it.
JOSEPH
(seeing her expression)
Are you okay? Should I stop?
MAYBELLENE
No, I'm okay. I'm okay.
END FLASHBACK - CHRISTMAS VACATION
In frustration, Joseph slams closed the bathroom window. The sound of the sexy music takes over the small bathroom.


END OF ACT TWO
ACT THREE

EXT. SCHOOL BOARD - MORNING
It's a sunny and mild spring day. 
ORGANIZERS from UFM and CORE are on the scene [Congress of Racial Equality]. SOME OF THE ORGANIZERS ARE WHITE MEN (mid-20s); others are BLACK MEN (late-30s).
Using city buses, the PARENTS arrive in small groups. Ruth, Esther, Simon, and Maxine are among them. The men wear suits. The women wear conservative dresses and low heels.
The organizers are handing the parents picket signs. They have a choice of 2 slogans:
GHETTO SCHOOLS MUST GO
SEPARATE IS NOT EQUAL
Ruth is visibly nervous at the sight of the picket signs being handed out.
WHITE ORGANIZER #1
Are you a member of UFM or CORE?
RUTH
UFM.
WHITE ORGANIZER #1
Is this your first protest?
RUTH
Yes, it is.
WHITE ORGANIZER #1
Thank you for coming out today. Do you have a preference, ma'am?
RUTH
A preference?
WHITE ORGANIZER #1
Do you care which sign you carry? Ghetto schools must go, or separate is not equal?
RUTH
(quietly)
I suppose I'll take separate is not equal, on account of my little girl.
WHITE ORGANIZER #1
She's bused to one of the white schools?
RUTH
Yes.
WHITE ORGANIZER #1
(distracted by other arriving parents)
Okay. Here you go. Just wait over there with the others until we're ready to form the line.
Going over to the others, Ruth carries her sign down low, nervous about displaying it.
Maxine and Simon are already in THE GROUP that is waiting to form the picket line. The group includes WHITE PEOPLE from the UFM and CORE.
Esther comes over to join them, holding her picket sign up high.
ESTHER
Lord, it's the NAAWP.
RUTH
The what?
ESTHER
Over there -- those white people getting out of those cars.
RUTH
What's the NAAWP?
MAXINE
North American Alliance for White People.
RUTH
(alarmed)
They need an alliance?
SIMON
It's nothing national. It's just the parents of the kids who go to the white schools -- they've "organized."
RUTH
But aren't we all really on the same side?
SIMON
What do you mean?
RUTH
They want our kids out of their schools, and we want bigger schools of our own.
SIMON
That's not what this protest is about. Look at your sign.
Ruth looks at it: SEPARATE IS NOT EQUAL
SIMON (CONT'D)
This is about putting all our kids together, and filling up those empty classrooms in that nice school. The building is sitting half-empty and our kids are being forced into a single utility room.
The MEMBERS OF THE NAAWP come closer to the protest area.
BLACK ORGANIZER #1
(passing quickly among the protesters)
Just ignore them and there won't be any trouble, okay? Whatever happens, just stay calm and focused.
RUTH
Does anything usually happen?
With too much going on, no one addresses Ruth's concern.
BLACK ORGANIZER #1
We need to have everybody form a line, now, and then we're going to form a nice, orderly circle, okay? Remember -- hold your signs up high. Stay focused. If anyone tries to taunt you, just focus on the brave person in front of you in the circle. That will help.
The protestors form a picket line and start to form a large circle.
RUTH
(to Simon)
Taunt us? You didn't tell me about this part. This is supposed to be a peaceful protest...
Moving through the circle, another black organizer gently pushes on Ruth's arm.
BLACK ORGANIZER #2
Signs up high now, everybody. Let's go.
For the first time, Ruth's sign is held up high.
RUTH
(really frightened)
I feel so exposed.
SIMON
(behind her in the line)
The sign does that, Mrs. Robinson. You'll get used to it. Just remind yourself of how important it is that you're here with us today.
RUTH
(not convinced)
Really?
Ruth moves in step as the large circle starts to move slowly, each picket sign held up high.
Through the windows of the school board building, CURIOUS WHITE EMPLOYEES are watching the picket line.
A van pulls up.
WHITE ORGANIZER #2
(walking quickly among them)
The Cleveland Press is here with a photographer. This is our moment, everybody. They're taking us seriously. Signs up high, up high!
As A JOURNALIST AND A PHOTOGRAPHER (white males, 30s) get out of the van, 2 police cruisers also pull up.
At the sight of the Cleveland Press, the NAAWP crowd runs in close, shouting and jeering at the protesters.
NAAWP
(overlapping)
"Niggers out of our schools!" "Go back to your own schools, niggers!" "Keep the white schools white!"
THE POLICE OFFICERS (white males) are out of the cruisers. 
RUTH
(shocked)
Lord, what is happening? 
No one answers her.
The hateful jeering gets louder.
The police officers try to corral the NAAWP and keep them clear of the protesters, but are only partly successful. The commotion is LOUD.
As she and the other picketers are jostled by the NAAWP, Ruth stares bravely at the back of the head of the person in front of her and holds her sign high. As she tries to keep in step:
JOURNALIST (O.S.)
(shouting to be heard over the chaos)
Can you tell me what's going on here today?
WHITE ORGANIZER #2 (O.S.)
(also shouting)
This is a peaceful protest! It's about the children! It's about 1700 Negro kindergartners who are on a waiting list to attend school! And white schools sitting with empty classrooms just a few miles away.
EXT. HOUGH AVENUE - AFTERNOON
Looking into Woolworth's window:
Vernon is at the lunch counter, paying his tab. 
He leaves Woolworth's. A BLACK WOMAN stops him on the sidewalk.
FEMALE CONGREGANT
Pastor Robinson! You must be so proud!
VERNON
(happy)
Of what?
FEMALE CONGREGANT
Of your wife! Protesting about the school.
VERNON
(trying to be polite)
Yes, well, if you'll excuse me.
INT. VERNON'S OFFICE
In the office, Elmira is at her desk, typing.
Vernon comes in.
ELMIRA
The afternoon mail just came.
VERNON
Anything important?
ELMIRA
Oh, I'd say so. It's in there on your desk.
VERNON
What is it?
ELMIRA
Something Reverend Miller sent over, Special Delivery. From the Regional Church Office.
Vernon heads into his office.
VERNON
The Regional Church Office? What could they want with us?
ELMIRA
I'm pretty sure all the churches in our area got one.
SILENCE. Then Vernon appears, holding a stack of papers.
VERNON
(awed)
It's from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
ELMIRA
I know.
VERNON
It's a copy of Reverend King's letter -- the one he wrote in Birmingham, in jail. The one President Kennedy read.
ELMIRA
I know.
VERNON
(hefting it in his hand)
This is no letter, it's a small book. This could take me all afternoon.
ELMIRA
Should I hold your calls?
I/E. VERNON'S OFFICE/ROBINSON HOME/SCHOOL BOARD/HOUGH AVENUE
Vernon sits at his desk and reads the letter. 
MARTIN LUTHER KING (V.O.)
My fellow clergymen, while confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities "unwise and untimely"... 
Vernon looks noticeably uncomfortable with what he is reading.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (V.O.)
Since I feel that you are men of genuine good will... I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham... 
On the Robinsons' front porch, Sarah sits on the glider. Franklin stands at the top of the porch steps. Judith comes up the steps, carrying her lunchbox.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (V.O.)
I am here because I was invited here... But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here... Just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco- Roman world--
FLASHBACK - SARAH AND FRANKLIN, MUNCIE, INDIANA 1923
The night sky glows as a small Catholic church is engulfed in flames. Young Franklin and Sarah help some ITALIAN IMMIGRANTS as best they can to put out the fire with buckets of water.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (V.O.)
-- so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town... I can not sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham... Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere... 
END FLASHBACK - SARAH AND FRANKLIN, MUNCIE, INDIANA 1923
Franklin and Judith join Sarah on the glider on the front porch.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (V.O.)
You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about this demonstration.
Ruth walks bravely in the circle of protestors, holding her sign high. The jeering members of the NAAWP close in, jostling the protestors while the white police officers try to intercede.
For an instant, Ruth glances at the ugly crowd. Her eyes lock with the eyes of Martin, the milkman. He is clearly shouting, "No niggers in our schools!" as he shoves Ruth to the ground. 
Ruth's picket sign flies from her grasp and hits Simon in the head.
Other picketers rush to help Ruth stand up. Ruth looks stunned.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (V.O.)
It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city's white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.
A little disheveled, Ruth walks up the front porch steps of the Robinson home. The front porch is empty. Ruth goes inside.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (V.O.)
Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known... There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation.
In the crowded hallway of the Cleveland Christian Seminary, a YOUNG BLACK MALE student surreptitiously hands Joseph an issue of TIME Magazine.
Joseph glances down at the cover: An illustration of writer James Baldwin. In the upper corner it reads: BIRMINGHAM & BEYOND; THE NEGRO'S PUSH FOR EQUALITY.
Joseph is awestruck. He stops in the hall while STUDENTS walk on around him.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (V.O.)
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed... For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of the Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never."
In front of the seminary, the city bus comes to a stop. 
The bus driver is white. The few riders at the front of the bus are also white. At the back of the bus, the riders are black.
Joseph, with TIME Magazine tucked under his arm, walks to the crowded back of the bus as the bus pulls away. 
MARTIN LUTHER KING (V.O.)
In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro... I have heard many ministers say: "Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern." 
FLASHBACK - BIRMINGHAM, APRIL, 1963
Newsreel footage from the first Birmingham riot.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (V.O.)
Over and over I have found myself asking: "What kind of people worship here? Who is their God? Where were their voices... when Governor Wallace gave a clarion call for defiance and hatred?"
END FLASHBACK - BIRMINGHAM, APRIL, 1963
Caleb walks along Hough Avenue alone, smoking a cigarette. He passes Faith Baptist Church. He doesn't even glance at it.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (V.O.)
But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before... Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust...
Caleb tosses away his cigarette butt and slips into a side alley. Almost hidden is the entryway to the strip joint. Caleb studies the photos of the strippers (African-American women) in the front window. Ada is not one of them.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (V.O.)
You warmly commended the Birmingham police force for keeping "order" and "preventing violence." I doubt that you would have so warmly commended the police force if you had seen its dogs sinking their teeth into unarmed, nonviolent Negroes...
Caleb sees 2 BLACK TODDLERS playing in the narrow alley. They appear desperately poor. The alley is filled with trash.
Caleb takes some loose change from his pocket and gives it to them. Delighted, they stare up at him in awe.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (V.O.)
...if you were to watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls...
Martin Luther King's voice fades away as Caleb goes into a diner.
INT. HOUGH AVENUE DINER
Lively pop music plays on the jukebox. Lots of BLACK TEENAGERS are in the diner. 
Caleb sees Maybellene over by the counter, her body keeping time to the music. She's still in school clothes.
Caleb approaches, purposely stands so that she can't easily get past him. 
CALEB
(chatting her up)
Sometimes I don't recognize you with your clothes on.
MAYBELLENE
I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about. Will you please excuse me, Caleb?
Maybellene tries gently pushing past him. He's in no hurry to move. His secret: He likes to be close to her.
CALEB
I'm talking about you always throwing yourself at Reverend Joe. It doesn't matter how many times you take your clothes off now, you know -- he's just going to fight with you. I know it.
MAYBELLENE
Shut up.
CALEB
Me? I don't like to fight.
MAYBELLENE
Really? Then why are you so rude?
CALEB
I'm not rude. I just tell it like it is. I've got nothing to fight with you about, Maybellene.
Caleb is standing close. Maybellene regards him curiously, as if maybe she is seeing someone she hasn't seen before. But finally she says:
MAYBELLENE
Move. I want to go home.
CALEB
Walk home with me. I know a shortcut.
Maybellene finally pushes past him. Her mind is made up.
MAYBELLENE
I know that shortcut. And it takes twice as long to get home from there.
Caleb grins at her as she walks away and leaves the diner. She doesn't look back.
INT. ROBINSONS' DINING ROOM/KITCHEN - LATER
The dining room table is set for dinner, but no one is sitting at the table.
Instead, everyone except Vernon is in the small kitchen, comforting Ruth. She sits at the cramped kitchen table with Sarah and Franklin.
RUTH
I tell you, it was Martin the milkman. I'm certain of it. 
SARAH
He was still in his uniform?
RUTH
No. Regular clothes. But I know it was him.
FRANKLIN
And he pushed you?
RUTH
(shook up)
Yes, I fell right down to the ground.
On instinct, Franklin holds the gold cross on the chain around his neck. He worries it as if it's a rosary bead.
RUTH (CONT'D)
He always seemed so nice.
Joseph stands behind his mother, protective. 
Judith stands next to Ruth, staring at her. She is too young to fully grasp everything.
Caleb leans against the kitchen counter; he says nothing. His expression is carved of stone.
SARAH
White people can switch on you, Ruth. You know that. Once you step into their neighborhood. 
RUTH
But it was the School Board. It wasn't his neighborhood.
FRANKLIN
The school, honey. It's a white school.
Judith looks at the grown-ups. Something disturbing is registering within the little girl. It shows on her face.
RUTH
Poor Simon got clobbered on the head with my picket sign --
They hear the sound of the front door opening. Vernon is home from the church.
VERNON (O.C.)
Sorry I'm late! Was working on the sermon. You'll never guess what came Special Delivery. Where is everybody?
Vernon comes into the kitchen.
VERNON (CONT'D)
(alarmed)
Ruth, what happened?
RUTH
I'm all right. Just shaken, really. A little bruised.
Caleb finally speaks.
CALEB
The milkman pushed her. Right down in the dirt.
VERNON
The milkman? What was he doing here in the middle of the day?
SARAH
Not here.
JOSEPH
While Mama was on the picket line.
CALEB
He called her a nigger.
Vernon bristles. He goes to Ruth. 
RUTH
You were right. I should have stayed home.
JOSEPH
Mama, no. It was important -- what you did.
VERNON
And you're home now. You're safe. We're all safe. For now.
Vernon looks around at his family.
VERNON (CONT'D)
And God's still on the throne. I've been giving this a lot of thought today. You've got us, Ruth, and we've got our church -- we're all on your side. The whole congregation. I'll see to it. Sunday morning.
Franklin brightens.
FRANKLIN
Sunday morning?
Vernon slides some folded papers from his suit pocket.
VERNON
My sermon.
JOSEPH
It's about Mama? What she's trying to do with the UFM?
VERNON
Well, yes. But it's more about Judith. And the Reverend Martin Luther King.
JUDITH
(excited)
It's about me, Daddy?
Wearily, Ruth grabs Vernon's hand and squeezes it. 
RUTH
It been a long day, Vernon. Eye-opening.
VERNON
I know.


END OF ACT THREE
ACT FOUR
EXT. ROBINSONS' HOUSE - DAWN
Once again in his starched white uniform, Martin the milkman walks up the Robinsons' driveway then walks up the back porch steps. He opens the milk chute, takes out 2 empty milk bottles and places 2 new bottles of milk inside it.
Martin glances toward the screen door. With a start, he realizes Caleb is standing just inside. 
Wearing only his pajama bottoms, Caleb stares silently through the screen at Martin.
MILKMAN
Morning.
Caleb says nothing.
For an instant, Martin stares back at Caleb through the screen, then hurries on his way.
INT. FRANKLIN & SARAH'S BEDROOM
Sarah is quietly getting dressed in the bedroom. She doesn't want to wake Franklin. Franklin awakens anyway.
FRANKLIN
Old woman, you tossed and turned all night.
SARAH
(tired)
I wish they'd never sent the kids into that school.
FRANKLIN
Too late for that.
SARAH
I'm too old to go through this again. Fighting. Running.
FRANKLIN
We're not running anywhere.
Sarah looks at him doubtfully.
INT. JOSEPH AND CALEB'S BEDROOM
Joseph is getting dressed for classes. Caleb comes in.
JOSEPH
Where did you go in such a hurry?
CALEB
(darkly)
Just saying hi to the milkman.
Joseph knows that tone.
JOSEPH
Cal, what are you thinking? 
CALEB
None of your business. 
JOSEPH
Caleb, let God handle this.
CALEB
Just go on and see Jesus - you go on to school.
JOSEPH
You're not going to school?
CALEB
Why do you need to know where I'm going?
I/E. ROBINSONS' HOUSE - LATER
A copy of the Cleveland Press sits on the Robinsons' front porch. Franklin comes out and gets the newspaper.
As he comes into the front room, he is looking at the front page.
FRANKLIN
(calling out)
The evening paper is here. And in case anyone's interested, we can almost see Ruth in this photo on the front page.
Joseph and Judith come into the front room.
JOSEPH
Mama's in the paper?
JUDITH
I want to see!
They follow Franklin to the kitchen. Sarah and Ruth have just finished cleaning up after dinner.
RUTH
(doubtful)
I'm in the paper?
FRANKLIN
Almost -- right here at the edge of the photo. That's you.
The photo on the front page: Ruth is holding her sign at the edge of the line of picketers in the photo.
RUTH
Funny. They don't show the police. Or me being pushed to the ground.
Vernon comes into the kitchen.
VERNON
What's all the excitement?
JUDITH
Mama's on the front page!
RUTH
Almost...
Vernon looks at the front page.
VERNON
That is you.
Joseph looks at the kitchen clock. It is 7:12 PM
JOSEPH
The local news is still on for three more minutes! If we hurry, maybe they'll say something about the protest -- about what really happened.
SARAH
You never know. Hurry up, Joe, go turn it on.
INT. ROBINSONS' BASEMENT STAIRS
Caleb quietly comes up the basement stairs.
INT. ROBINSONS' FRONT ROOM
As the black & white TV comes on, there is news footage of U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy speaking to the National Press.
JOSEPH
Too bad. It looks like we missed the local news, Mama.
Caleb comes into the front room. He looks at his family, then at the TV. Stands there.
ROBERT F. KENNEDY
(on the TV)
We have been in touch with Negro and White leaders in Birmingham throughout the day. Continued refusal to grant equal rights to Negroes makes increasing turmoil inevitable. However, the timing of the present demonstrations is open to question.
SARAH
What's going on now?
She holds Judith in her lap as they watch TV.
The news footage of Robert F. Kennedy ends and the TV set shows anchorman Walter Cronkite.
WALTER CRONKITE
(on the TV)
That was U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy moments ago, speaking from the White House about the renewed riots in Birmingham, Alabama, today, where thousands of children marched in the streets and were brutally attacked by police dogs and pummeled with high-pressure fire hoses.
As Cronkite speaks, news footage is shown of black children of all ages tumbling over in the streets and thrown against buildings from the force of the water from the high-pressure hoses.
A police dog strains at his leash as he viciously bites a black teenage boy on the stomach. It is pandemonium.
VERNON
Dear Lord.
THE FAMILY's FACES RESPOND TO THE TV IMAGES: Franklin, Sarah, Ruth and Joseph in disbelief and despair.
Judith starts to cry.
Caleb's face is an unreadable wall.
WALTER CRONKITE
(on the TV)
Several thousand children have now been arrested. Reports are that the Birmingham jails are filled to capacity and that over one thousand children have been herded into the stockyards at the empty fairgrounds and are being held in outdoor pens. The U.S. Attorney General admonished the use of children in demonstrations, saying that, quote, "an injured, maimed, or dead child is a price none of us can afford to pay."
Angrily, Vernon gets up and turns off the television.
VERNON
That's enough!
Except for Judith, who is still crying as Sarah holds her in her lap, the family stares at the blank TV screen in stunned silence.
INT. JOSEPH & CALEB'S BEDROOM - MOMENTS LATER
It's dusk. Caleb leans out the open window.
His mood is dark. He lights a cigarette with his gold-plated Zippo, careful to keep the smoke outside the open window.
FLASHBACK - INSIDE STRIP JOINT - NIGHT
- Ada is on stage. A classy, old-school stripper. She takes off just enough, but not everything.
- Caleb stands to the side of the stage - close but not too close. Ada smiles slyly at him from the stage.
- A bouncer takes Caleb by the arm - he's nervous until he realizes the bouncer is taking him backstage, not booting him out to the alley. 
- Backstage, local strippers in various stages of undress eye Caleb luridly.
- Bouncer deposits Caleb in Ada's "star" dressing room - a bleak affair.
- Ada comes in to the dressing room. Pasties and a G-string. She is stunning, sweating a little. She's happy to see Caleb.
ADA
Hello there.
Caleb, stoic but overwhelmed too, says nothing.
ADA (CONT'D)
You want a Coca-cola?
CALEB
(not sure why he's there)
No.
ADA
Well, let's see. I'm sure I must have something here you want.
END FLASHBACK - INSIDE STRIP JOINT - NIGHT
The light in Maybellene's room comes on. Caleb sees her in her room. He watches her put a 45 on her record player.
He watches her unbutton her shirt. He can see her bra.
Maybellene sees Caleb at his window. With her shirt hanging open, she comes to her own window and opens it. An upbeat song can be heard coming from her record player.
MAYBELLENE
(defiant)
Since when are you allowed to smoke in the house, preacher boy?
CALEB
I'm not a preacher boy.
MAYBELLENE
Your daddy's a minister and so's your grandpa.
CALEB
So? That doesn't make me a preacher boy.
MAYBELLENE
What does it make you, then?
Staring at her, Caleb doesn't reply.
INT. JUDITH'S BEDROOM
Sarah and Ruth tuck Judith into bed. Judith is still shaken.
RUTH
That's not what happened to Mama, honey. You don't have to worry about me.
SARAH
(to Judith)
And nothing like that is going to happen to you.
RUTH
(doubtful)
We just have to get this school thing figured out -- isn't that right, Grandma?
An argument gets underway in the kitchen.
FRANKLIN (O.C.)
(angry)
What are you doing?
INT. ROBINSONS' KITCHEN
Vernon crumples up his sermon and throws it in the trash. 
VERNON
(angry)
I'm done, Dad. I thought I understood this man, but I don't. Children, Dad. Children are getting hurt now.
JOSEPH
But the congregation needs to understand...
VERNON
Understand what? You have no idea what you're even talking about.
FRANKLIN
He understands enough to know that they need guidance right now - comfort and strength. Not a blind eye.
VERNON
I don't have a blind eye. I have a good memory - that's what I have.
FRANKLIN
You were three years old!
VERNON
You don't need to be much older than three to remember your own father trying to take on the Ku Klux Klan - and everything around you going up in flames!
JOSEPH
Dad, this is different. It's Martin Luther King. It President Kennedy. They'll find a way.
VERNON
Would you listen to yourself? What the hell are you talking about? Find a way for what? To get us all killed quicker? I'm not telling my congregation to get on board with Reverend King. He's too dangerous.
JOSEPH
Dad...
VERNON
I'm done, Joseph. Save your breath.
Vernon storms out of the kitchen. Franklin retrieves Vernon's sermon from the trash.
INT. JOSEPH & CALEB'S BEDROOM
Caleb is relaxed. In her white bra and her blue jeans, Maybellene is hanging out her window, smoking a cigarette. Her body moving to the soulful music coming from her room.
Joseph comes into the bedroom. Registers everything at once.
JOSEPH
(outraged)
Don't you even care what's going on? What are you two doing in here?
CALEB
Trying to have fun.
JOSEPH
This is what you call fun? Egging on a girl who has no self-respect?
CALEB
You know what? You've got the whole rest of the house to be righteous in.
JOSEPH
You call caring about people being righteous?
CALEB
You're allowed to take a break. Jesus Christ. This is not Alabama, okay? It's Cleveland. I'll take care of it.
JOSEPH
(astounded)
You'll take care of what?
Maybellene's record has ended.
They hear glass shattering somewhere down the street and people shouting. It sounds nasty.
Both Maybellene and Caleb lean out their windows and try to see where the disturbance is coming from, but it's too far away.
Then Maybellene sees that Joseph is looking at her in her bra and blue jeans. This is what she'd really been hoping for.
MAYBELLENE
Hey, Joe. We missed you.
Losing Maybellene's attention, Caleb stares at Joseph, his mood dark again.
JOSEPH
(to Caleb)
What? Why are you looking at me like that?
Joseph looks again at Maybellene in her bra and blue jeans.
JOSEPH (CONT'D)
(back to Caleb)
What is going on here anyway?
EXT. HOUGH NEIGHBORHOOD/E. 93RD STREET - DAWN
The sun is barely up. A beautiful purple dawn inches across the East Cleveland sky. 
Martin drives his Morningside Dairy milk truck. 
The milk truck turns right onto E. 93rd.
THE SOUND OF AN UPBEAT ROCK & ROLL SONG PLAYED ON A TINNY TRANSISTOR RADIO CAN BE HEARD. 
Across the street from the Robinsons' house, Martin parks his milk truck at the curb.
He walks up the neighbor's driveway, carrying a milk delivery. Going around back, Martin is out of sight.
Caleb is suddenly at the curb in front of his own house. 
Quickly, he lights the rag that is taped into a pop bottle, half-filled with gasoline. 
Caleb flings the pop bottle hard at the side of the milk truck. The bottle shatters. The Morningside Dairy logo is immediately streaked with fiery flames.
Caleb walks quickly down E. 93rd Street, in the direction of Hough Ave.
At a safe distance, he pauses; he lights a cigarette. He turns and joins TWO MALE NEIGHBORS (AFRICAN-AMERICAN, 40s) who have come out to the sidewalk as they stare in disbelief at the milk truck streaked with fire.
The sun is coming up.
Caleb sees Martin running down the driveway towards his truck. 
Martin stops and stares in stunned horror at his milk truck, doused in flames.
Caleb casually turns away from his neighbors and continues walking toward Hough Avenue, smoking his cigarette. 
The sound of the rock & roll song on the transistor radio becomes deafening.
FADE TO BLACK.

END OF SHOW

The world of author Marilyn Jaye Lewis

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