Why would a White woman choose to make a film about The Negro Leagues?
I made the film because racism and segregation never made sense to me. I know its real and exists but it never made sense, so I wanted to ask the people who lived it what it was like to pursue their dreams in spite of the inequality, roadblocks and hurdles they had to endure and overcome. They shared stories of injustice and mistreatment with me. But the one thing they all had in common was pride and humility. They followed their dreams and because of what they did, they changed America. They each recognize they didn’t solve the problem completely, but their actions made strides to change America. Each and every player told me they were proud to be a Negro League baseball player and would do it again if they could go back in time. In 2020 people should not have to endure hatred or inequities based on skin color, religion, sexual orientation, or anything else that makes them who they are.
I’ve spent the last 13+ years thinking about these issues while making “The Other Boys of Summer”. Over the last week I’ve been trying to figure out how I can make a difference today.
Since January 31, 2019 I’ve brought the stories of these unsung civil rights trailblazers to tens of thousands of people. I’ve seen first hand how the film and our Diversity & Inclusion program brings people together and inspires. I’ve heard time and time again how it has given people hope. Maybe that’s my purpose in this? Many times I’m the only White person on the panel or sometimes in the room and I’ve never felt more welcome and appreciated. I often don’t even realize it until I scroll through photos later. That doesn’t mean I’m oblivious or in denial of racism. It just means that people are people and can engage in all sorts of dialog when they put their differences aside. Humanity should be colorblind.
I’ve seen the positive impact the stories of the Negro Leaguers have had on individuals and communities. I’ve experienced that we are stronger together. After bringing the Diversity & Inclusion program to Spartanburg, SC in February I received an email thanking me and saying that Spartanburg will never be the same. We did 5 programs in Spartanburg and reached thousands of people of all colors, ages, economic levels and religious beliefs. Hundreds of people joined together to watch the film and engage in powerful conversations. I’ve had a 12 yr old in Chicago hug me after the program and say thank you. I’ve had parents in DC, Cincinnati, Dallas, Cleveland and Rocky Mount thank me. Moms have said they were heading home to sign their kids up for little league. Lawyers, bankers, teachers, current and legendary MLB players have applauded and appreciated the program.
I hope to continue to provide something valuable and help bridge the divide. The men and women of the Negro Leagues generously shared their personal stories without anger or bitterness and I plan to continue to preserve their legacy and provide hope and inspiration to people across America.
Hate has never solved any problems. Listening and learning from others can.
I’m going to try to do my part to contribute to bringing people together and providing much needed hope and inspiration. I hope you’ll join me.
Filmmaker, The Other Boys of Summer