In 1978, strong-willed yet idiosyncratic Steve Wiggins follows his father’s military footsteps and enrolls in South Carolina Military Academy, a bastion of Southern principles and severe discipline. The academy only recently allowed black cadets to attend and is in the early stages of a policy enforcement against the upperclassmen’s notorious hazing. The students whisper about Steve when he passes, and their words follow him like shadows of the palmetto trees swaying in the breeze.In Charleston, South Carolina, where the Confederacy and slave trade cast a shadow over the city’s history, the mayor begins an ambitious new project that attempts to bring the city out of the dark. While on campus, Steve stumbles into a moral dilemma to either expose a situation or remain silent to safeguard his secret.When Steve returns home, he notices a change in Charleston. The faces from his childhood are absent from church. There is a new pastor. Steve is no longer speaking to his girlfriend. He feels exasperated and in need of someone to talk to. At home, he wears a smile, and his parents take pride in him for dedicating himself to such a disciplined life.Standing Tall highlights an African American’s experience in a marginalized environment with pervasive Southern ideology. While attending a military academy is a difficult trial, it teaches important lessons, including but not limited to stoicism, perseverance, and tenacity.
Standing TallJames Wigfall