GPB to air documentary on African American high school sports during segregation

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By Todd Holcomb, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“As If We Were Ghosts,” a docudrama concerning African American professional athletes, trainers as well as groups of the old Georgia Interscholastic Organization, shines a brand-new light on exactly how their social and also athletic ventures have impacted the state for greater than half a century.

The one-hour unique, which will certainly premiere Monday night at 9 on Georgia Public Broadcasting with a 2nd proving on Juneteenth Sunday at 5 p.m., will certainly have interviews with NBA great Walt Frazier and also Olympic gold medalists Wyomia Tyus and Edith McGuire, all previous standouts in the GIA, which administered sporting activities for Georgia’s all-Black senior high schools from 1948 with 1970.

The docudrama additionally will certainly highlight lesser-known professional athletes who never obtained media coverage in their day, such as 91-year-old Charles Freeman, a member of Eatonton Colored Institution’s basketball group from 1950.

The docudrama is nearly twenty years planned. Former GPB executive Herb White, the former Decatur High, Georgia and Atlanta Hawks basketball gamer, launched the job in 2004, but GPB shelved it in 2011, when White retired.

Then in 2014, Atlanta property developer Ron Bivins, a former exceptional GIA athlete, was influenced to money its conclusion himself. Independent filmmaker Monty Ross, dealing with DeKalb County-based Our Studios, is the director, caused in March. Fox Sports commentator Pam Oliver, who began her broadcasting career in Albany, serves as a voice actor.

Co-producer Bivins said his interest for the task is individual. He was a three-sport professional athlete and beginning quarterback at A.L. Staley High, which now could be called a ghost school. The all-Black school ended up being a junior high in 1970, when Americus High integrated, combining trainee bodies. The original Staley school structure burned down suspiciously, according to Bivins, in 1972. Its sports history appeared to pass away with it.

Bivins was Staley’s quarterback. His equivalent at the crosstown white college, Americus High, was Chan Gailey, who would make the AJC’s All-State group as well as obtain even more fame as a trainer with the Dallas Cowboys as well as Georgia Technology.

The media occasionally called or identified GIA all-state teams, yet the GIA had relevant athletes all the same. Bivins remembers a basketball colleague, Paul Jones, who racked up virtually 70 points in a track as well as a video game sprinter, Frank Seay, whom he states was faster than Americus High great Mackel Harris, an African American football celebrity who went along a couple of years later and gained prestige statewide at the formerly all-white Americus institution.

Harris and also Americus High teammate Kent Hillside went on to star at Georgia Tech, and also Hill would be the initial Black gamer from Americus in the NFL, yet Bivins’ contemporaries went unrecruited by the leading historically white college programs as well as were unknown outside their local Black neighborhoods and also practically ignored by the media. Yet Bivins said they were admired by young Black children such as Harris as well as Hillside as well as made a distinction in their towns.

” We had excellent professional athletes that could have played for any person, yet they didn’t have the weight space and the training,” Bivins claimed. “We really did not even have a track group. We had absolutely nothing however natural ability.”

White, currently staying in Mexico, is delighted that Bivins has actually championed the job. When White was dipping into Decatur in the mid-1960s, The Atlanta Journal released weekly positions of the best basketball gamers in the state yet neglected GIA celebrities such as Frazier, that graduated from Atlanta’s Howard High in 1963. In White’s elderly year of ’65, White was ranked No. 1 without African American players provided.

” I had actually been playing in the summertime with people from all-Black gyms around Atlanta for three years,” White claimed. “I recognized there were people with ability equal to my own that were never mentioned. I really felt rather embarrassed.”

Amongst them were Garfield Heard of Hogansville and Don Adams of South Fulton. Both would play several years in the NBA.

Yet “As If We Were Ghosts” isn’t just regarding identifying GIA professional athletes that went on to popularity, and there are many, consisting of the NFL’s Emerson Boozer and MLB’s Donn Clendenon, in addition to Tyus and also McGuire, the Georgia friends that finished 1-2 in the 1964 Olympic ladies’s 100 meters.

Ross, understood for his movie tasks with fellow Clark Atlanta classmate Spike Lee, was moved by the tale of Freeman, a surviving gamer from an Eatonton GIA group that won a basketball champion who still bore in mind plays his group ran 72 years back. Ross also enjoyed the tale of Houston High’s 1969 champion group, which got no acknowledgment outside the GIA in its day. The city of Perry recognized the team with champion rings in 2020.

” The thing that stood out to me was the resilience of the athletes and former students,” Ross stated. “They were claiming the day they can have a piece of their background that has actually wasted away in their brains for so long so they might finally reveal their loved ones, their grandkids, that all the tales they have actually been speaking about for 20-30 years were true.”

Bivins claimed he hopes the docudrama reveals the achievements of forgotten stars but likewise offers to provide contemporary African American athletes a much better point of view of background.

” I take a look at the money these kids are making today. They require to understand whose shoulders they’re riding on, the people who went along prior to them to help pave the way,” Bivins claimed. “They are the benefactors of what was carried out in the ’40s with the ’70s. As well as I tell them to give back. Reach out and pull some others up equally as several of them drew you up but never were identified.”

Last year, Atlanta real estate designer Ron Bivins, a former superior GIA professional athlete, was inspired to money its conclusion himself. He was a three-sport athlete and also starting quarterback at A.L. Staley High, which currently might be called a ghost institution.” We had excellent athletes that might have played for anybody, however they really did not have the weight space and the training,” Bivins claimed. Ross, known for his movie jobs with fellow Clark Atlanta schoolmate Spike Lee, was relocated by the tale of Freeman, a surviving gamer from an Eatonton GIA team that won a basketball championship that still remembered plays his group ran 72 years back. Ross also delighted in the tale of Houston High’s 1969 championship group, which got no acknowledgment outside the GIA in its day.

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