Open Competition for Screenwriters of Diversity in the Film Industry

Emery King on the ’54 DuSable Panthers basketball team, race, and opportunity in the film industry today

The DuSable Panthers may have been cheated out of the Illinois State High School championship in 1954 based on the color of their skin.  The production company planning to turn the story of their many triumphs into a film wants to ensure that the color of a screenwriter’s skin doesn’t determine successs in 2016.  DuSable Productions has created  an open call competition to find a screenwriter of diversity to write the screenplay.  Emery King, Owner of Emery King Communications is a co-producer of the film “The DuSable Panthers.”  He tells Stephen Henderson why the story and the competition matter.

According to the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association:

The 1954 Panthers are considered by many to be the finest basketball team ever developed in the Chicago Public League. They won 31 consecutive games before bowing to Mount Vernon 76-70 in the 1954 Illinois State Championship game. DuSable pioneered the fast break, full court pressure, and pro socks in Illinois basketball history. This team was the first Chicago team ever to compete in the Illinois State Championship Game. The Panthers opened the door and paved the way for Championship runs of Marshall, Carver, and Hirsch. They tore down racial barriers of select hotels, motels, and eateries that formerly denied accommodations to the African- American athlete in Illinois.

DuSable Productions is looking for a screenwriter to develop a film adaptation of Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Ira Berkow’s non-fiction book:“The DuSable Panthers: The Greatest, Blackest, Saddest Team from the Meanest Street in Chicago.”  The film will be set in 1950’s Chicago (against the percolating Civil Rights Movement and pending Brown vs Board of Education decision), and  tells the story of the first time in history an all-black High School basketball team with a black coach competed in a State-level championship against a  predominantly white  team. It is the story of great talent overcoming adversity to cement its  place in American history.