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Documentaries & Non-Fiction Series

Epix Documentary Preview: Forgotten Four [VIDEO and PHOTOS] 

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One of the most stirring, but perhaps least known stories of courage in the civil rights movement is the story of four black athletes who broke the color barrier in 1946, a year before Jackie Robinson integrated Major League Baseball. Marion Motley, Woody Strode, Kenny Washington and Bill Willis charted the path for the desegregation of profession sports. Around the time of the Great Depression, a “gentleman’s agreement” was formed among the NFL team owners not to sign African-American athletes, thus segregating professional football. However, college sport still provided opportunities for them and Motley, Strode, Washington and Willi were stars of their collegiate teams.

  • At UCLA, Strode and Washington contributed to the Bruin’s 1939 undefeated season.
  • Motley, at the University of Nevada, Reno, was one of the country’s top fullbacks.
  • Willis helped Ohio State win the Big Ten conference and national championship under coach Paul Brown, a key figure in the story of the “Forgotten Four.”

As World War II raged, more than one million African-Americans served their country while continuing to fight for their civil rights at home. The willingness of these soldiers to fight and die for their country helped bring about change. In March 1946 Washington and Strode were signed to the Los Angeles Rams and coach Paul Brown brought Motely and Willis to the Cleveland Browns. Forgotten Four: The Integration of Pro Football returns these pioneers to their rightful place in American sports and civil rights history — as champions who fought racism on and off the field, running interference for future generations.

Forgotten Four premieres Tuesday, September 23rd at 8/7c on Epix.

VIDEO

Trailer:

Clip 1:

Clip 2:

PHOTOS

All images courtesy of Epix.

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