The Forgotten Four, to be forgotten no more
The Forgotten Four, to be forgotten no more. A profile of the four African American athletes who broke the color barrier in professional football
Earlier this month EPIX hosted a South Florida screening of their new sports documentary, The Forgotten Four. In a room that held Hall of Fame players, family members, and representatives from the NAACP, the Black Archives and other like-minded organizations; their was a self-admitted lack of knowledge on the subject. The aptly named film explores a lost part of football history. First account testimony, select player interviews and archived footage delve into the story of the four African-American athletes -Kenny Washington, Woody Strode, Marion Motley and Bill Willis – that broke the color barrier in professional football in 1946. This was one year before Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey did the same for Major League Baseball.
Many attending, which included Miami Dolphins greats Nat Moore, Larry Little and Mercury Morris, wanted the Forgotten Four to be forgotten no more. “Every young athlete, football or otherwise, should watch this film…to be aware of these heroes,” said Hall of Fame lineman Larry Little. The sentiment was echoed by all former players in attendance; “You have to learn where you came from so you can move forward,” added Mercury Morris.
The 60 minute documentary is narrated by Tony Award winner Jeffrey Wright and produced by 52 time Emmy award winner Ross Greenburg. Countless football legends provide commentary in the film, including: Don Shula, Bob Gain, Sherman Howard, Jim Hardy, George Taliaferro and more. As part of the roll-out prior to the mid-September release, EPIX and the NFL hosted many other local screenings in NFL markets. A panel of relevant former NFL players shared their thoughts in a town-hall setting – this model was followed in South Florida and at the screenings across the country “EPIX is pleased to work with the National Football League to bring the story of these trailblazers in civil rights and professional sports to a new national audience,” Mark Greenberg, President and CEO of EPIX said in a release. “We believe The Forgotten Four presents an insightful and informative account of the profound impact these courageous men had on the sport.”
Also on the strategic partnership with the league: Producer Wes Smith, told TheBusinessOfSports.com that “The NFL liked what we were doing, and their buy-in was an added bonus…Being able [to use the league] shield gives the documentary even more credibility…if you have the right project and the right partners…things can happen pretty quickly.”
Forgotten Four: The Integration of Pro Football, premieres on EPIX at September 23 at 8PM ET