The Forgotten Four is a documentary presented by Epix that talks about the stories of four courageous civil rights pioneers, Woody Strode, Kenny Washington, Bill Willis, and Marion Motley, who paved the way for the African American community in terms of football and sports as a whole.
Executive producer Wes Smith and producer Ross Greenburg have created a film that talks about a part of football history that has gone unnoticed for so long and is something that is essential to our nation’s history. The film Forgotten Four talks about the integration of African Americans in professional football and brings an untold story to life, something that many feel should have been done years earlier.
The film starts off with talking about America during its post-civil war stage where segregation was in full swing. Although it talked about the segregated water fountains and bathrooms, which is something people have seen stories and pictures, what this film brings to the table that very few films have done before was that it included gruesome details, such as African Americans being lynched and tortured, to really show the horrific truth of the segregation time period. This then set the tone for the entire movie saying that although we have learned that African Americans had a rough life during this time, in actuality, it was much, much worse. Although the film did focus partly on the harsh quality of life of the African American community, it then shifted gears to the greatness and perseverance of the four heroes of the film. What this film did well was it really depicted how hard these players needed to work to be recognized like how Woody Strode trained by doing 1000 pushups, 1000 sit ups, 1000 knee ups, and more exercises along those lines on a daily basis.
At this time, if you were an African American, you had to be the best of the best to even be considered to play for any team, and from what was shown from this film, it was clear that these four players were the absolute best of the best. However, even though these players were very good, they had to face adversities like getting death threats, having to face with racist football higher ups, still having to deal with the struggles of segregation, having to overcome the discrimination of the fans of the game as well as the discrimination of their own team, and at the same time, not upset the general population. Each African American athlete at this time had to carry the burden of race with them, not only having to ensure their success but ensure the success of their community.
Overall, this film was very inspiring as well as eye opening. The most interesting tidbit to take away from this movie and something that should really be reflected on was the fact that these four players played professional football before Jackie Robinson even started his baseball career. To think that the stories of these four incredible players has been left untold for such a long time is mind boggling to say the very least. As a whole, this documentary allows for the opportunity for the audience to really appreciate how far the African American community has come. Although there is still much more work left to be done, the Forgotten Four is a film that will leave an impression on you for a long, long time.
The film will premiere on EPIX September 23rd at 8pm ET/PT.