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An Unlikely Friendship is a film about the surprising friendship that emerged between an embittered Ku Klux Klan leader and an outspoken black female activist. Told in their own words, this compelling story is as sincere and down-home as the protagonists.
In the early 1970s, when Durham, North Carolina, was experiencing acrimonious racial tensions, Ann Atwater, a poor welfare mother, and CP Ellis, the Exalted Grand Cyclops of the Durham Ku Klux Klan, were on opposite sides of the public school integration debate. They were appointed to co-chair a committee to resolve problems arising from a court-ordered school desegregation. Initially, their relationship was fraught with distrust and hatred, but as they worked together, they formed a deep and loving friendship that shocked Durham's residents. On the final night of the ten-day community meeting, in front of 1,000 people, including fellow Klansmen, Ellis tore up his Klan card.
The change came with a heavy price: Ellis became an outcast among his former friends who still retain their resentment. But the protagonists' stories are comic and poignant, and their ability to find common ground and overcome their hatred provides a helpful and hopeful model for us all.
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