I reviewed COOLEY HIGH in my college newspaper when the movie was new. I enjoyed it then. I feel it's even more significant now. A few reviewers called this 1975 release about high school kids in 1964 "the black American Graffiti." That was meant as a compliment. American Graffiti got George Lucas Oscar nominations for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. Lucas' tale about Caucasian high schoolers coming of age in California in 1962 was also a big box office hit and a nominee for Best Picture of 1973. Cooley High is now available on Blu-ray thanks to OliveFilms.com.
About Cooley High, J. Hoberman wrote this in The New York Times: "Mr. Schultz's movie is set just before the movement for racial equality turned north (and increasingly violent)." Schultz's high school movie, to repeat, was set in 1964. Let's jump ahead to another director who became extremely popular and beloved for directing movies about high schoolers in the Chicago area -- the late and beloved John Hughes.
The only ethnic young actor I can recall in a John Hughes teen comedy was Gedde Watanabe in Sixteen Candles as "Long Duk Dong."
Cooley High is a worth a look. It's very entertaining. And it was great to see African-American high school students in 1960s Chicago. Because, in the John Hughes Chicago of the 1980s, there was no such thing as African-American high school students to pal around with Molly Ringwald or Matthew Broderick.