Door Ajar – The M.B. Mayfield Story (2019)

mayfield-model
Painting by M.B. Mayfield

Documentary
90 minutes
Release 2019

From inside a broom closet through a cracked door, an African American janitor listens and learns art in segregated Mississippi.

1949 Segregated Mississippi

While driving through Ercu, Mississippi to start his new job as the first chairman of the University of Mississippi art department, Prof. Stuart R. Purser discovers the roadside artwork of twenty-six-year-old African American primitive artist, M.B. Mayfield (1923-2005). It is here an amazing journey begins.

Purser, whose father was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, installs Mayfield as a janitor at the university with the sole purpose of teaching him. From inside the classroom’s broom closet with the door ajar, the artist listens and learns. And it is through this narrow opening these two men become an important part of Southern history.

Door Ajar captures the true essence of the South, told by those who grew up in a different era. Sometimes their yarns are jarringly awkward to listen to, but it’s always earnest and from the heart.

From a close family member to townspeople, to a civil rights campaigner, politician, judge, authors, documentary makers, and historians…Door Ajar records tales that sound like folklore but true.

Good Will Hunting goes South.

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