Benton Harbor teens re-create ‘Coming to America’ for prom

We might be BLAC Detroit, but it’s OK for us to check in with our neighbors from other parts of the state. And these prom videos from Benton Harbor are too good not to share with you all.

Prom season has been increasingly over-the-top year after year, with students (er, their parents…) going the extra mile to impress their dates, make a statement at the big dance and maybe become famous on the internet. But we can’t remember when a Michigan prom got as much attention.

Over the weekend, a few Benton Harbor High School students re-created the “She’s Your Queen to Be” scene from “Coming to America,” with one young lady strolling down the carpet in a gold number mimicking the gown worn by Vanessa Bell Calloway. Another student sang the famous entrance song, and she was later joined by a Prince Akeem lookalike draped in a fur stole. No word on if the girl hopped on one foot and made a noise like an orangutan.

Most people remember “Coming to America” for the jokes, but often overlooked is how groundbreaking the film was at the time. Few mainstream audiences were familiar with African glamour and wealth, and in front of the jokes was a Black love story, predating the Black romcom boom of the 1990s. As Detroit native and writer dream hampton once wrote about the film in a reflection of Eddie Murphy’s career:

Murphy then took his considerable cache in Hollywood and created Coming to America with an entirely black cast. It remains a cult classic, referenced in pop (i.e., hip-hop) culture countless times. With America Murphy created a buddy film that starred his real-life friend Arsenio Hall, whose variety show would serve as a mainstream stage for an emerging generation of rap stars. With America, Murphy also couched a romantic comedy in a story about African royalty, reflecting (in a fun house mirror type of way) the cultural nationalism of the ’60s, which begat a problack ethos in the ’80s that informed everything from Public Enemy to The Cosby Show.

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That the legacy of “Coming to America” still reigns among today’s teens is a testament to how impactful the movie still is – jokes and all.

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