Durham civil rights figure Ann Atwater and the story of school desegregation in the Bull City hits the big screen next year.

The forthcoming film The Best of Enemies stars Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson as Atwater and Oscar winner Sam Rockwell as C.P. Ellis, a local Klan leader with whom she ran Save Our Schools, an effort to facilitate school desegregation in the 1970s. The two ultimately became good friends, hence the title of the film, which is based on Osha Gray Davidson’s bookThe Best of Enemies: Race and Redemption in the New South.

Check out the trailer, which begins with a 1963 fire at the East End grade school.

Atwater moved to Durham in 1953, and according to historian Christina Greene, had a tenth-grade education at the time. After getting divorced and leaving her job to have a baby, she was living in dilapidated housing and fell behind on rent, Greene writes in Our Separate Ways, Women and the Black Freedom Movement in Durham, North Carolina. Local organizers helped her to raise the money she owed her landlord and she became a housing advocate herself, eventually becoming one of Durham’s most influential and vehement activists.

It was then that Howard Fuller, activist and founder of Malcolm X Liberation University in Durham, recruited her to join an effort called Operation Breakthrough, an anti-poverty initiative supported by the North Carolina Fund. Atwater later became a supervisor with the Housing Committee for United Organizations for Community Improvement, which grew out of an effort by mothers in the McDougald Terrace public housing neighborhood to organize residents across predominantly low-income, black neighborhoods and “the major black protest organization in the city,” Greene writes.

Atwater and Ellis’s relationship began as a tense one. According to Greene, Ellis, armed and as a representative of the KKK, “would launch into racist diatribes” at City Council meetings. One night, Atwater was in attendance for such heinous remarks and lunged at Ellis with a knife. Her friends held her back.

When the state AFL-CIO got a federal grant to help desegregate schools, Atwater and Ellis were selected as co-chairs. Ellis initially refused to even sit at the same table as Atwater, Greene writes. Following the ten days of intensive talks at the center of the forthcoming film, he disavowed the Klan.

“It finally came to me that I had more in common with poor black people than I did with rich white ones,” Ellis told the legendary journalist Studs Terkel, who wrote about the two.

Atwater and Ellis remained lifelong friends. He died in 2005 and Atwater in 2016.

The movie is due out in April — and Henson, for one, is already excited:

THIS MOVIE IS SO IMPORTANT AND I CAN NOT WAIT FOR Y’ALL TO MEET #ANNATWATER AND #CPELLIS 🙌🏾🙏🏾💋💋💋 https://t.co/NdkEY6CPDj— Taraji P. Henson (@TherealTaraji) October 11, 2018