*John Legend is stepping away from music for a minute to shed light on a story that “needs to be told.”
Essence reports the Oscar-winning singer is an executive producer on the new HBO documentary, “Southern Rites.” The Gillian Laub-directed film centers on the segregated proms in Montgomery County and Toombs County, Ga. as well as the death of Justin Patterson.
Patterson, a black 22-year-old, was fatally shot by Norman Neesmith, a white man, in January 2011. Neesmith was unaware that Patterson was invited into his home by his biracial great-niece when he appeared with a shotgun to demand that Patterson and his younger brother leave. When the brothers ran, Neesmith started firing shots. Peterson ultimately died in a nearby field.
In her film, Laub utilizes a series of interviews and photographs to document the tragedy in addition to the town’s unpublicized segregation. The scope of Patterson’s death is captured from the 911 call to the shooting’s aftermath.
“This is a story that needs to be told,” Laub said in a press release. “This film is about giving a voice to the people of Montgomery and Toombs counties. This is their narrative.”
“Southern Rites” is set to premiere at 9 p.m. ET/PT Monday (May 18) on HBO. To see a trailer for the documentary, check out the video below: