“The League” –A Deeper Dive Into The Negro Leagues: Sam Pollard Shares His Passion For Untold History 

“The League” –A Deeper Dive Into The Negro Leagues: Sam Pollard Shares His Passion For Untold History 

American director Sam Pollard delivers a powerful and enlightening cinematic experience with his latest film, The League. In an exclusive interview with SOHH, Pollard opens up about his decade-long journey in making the film, collaborating with Questlove, the executive producer, and the importance of telling untold stories from the African American experience. With a passionate commitment to unearthing hidden history, Pollard encourages viewers, especially the Black audience, to embrace this opportunity to learn something new and gain a deeper appreciation for the American experience.

Sam Pollard Talks “The League”

Sam Pollard continues to leave a mark on the film industry with his latest release, The League. This cinematic masterpiece, which premiered in theaters on July 7, offers a captivating exploration of the Negro Leagues, shedding light on the extraordinary journeys and struggles of its players. The film provides a profound exploration of the Negro Leagues, delving into the trials and triumphs of its players. 

Having directed numerous films and documentaries like “Eyes On The Prize” and “Mr Soul!” Pollard’s expertise and passion for storytelling shine through. In an exclusive press interview with SOHH, the director from Harlem, New York City, shares his experience in bringing this important story to life and his collaboration with The Roots’ drummer, Questlove, who served as the film’s executive producer.

Pollard speaks highly of working with Questlove, describing him as a multi-talented. “Quest is a very talented man on many levels,” Pollard enthused, “So it was a pleasure to be engaged with him.” 

The Making Of “The League”

The journey of making The League has been a decade-long endeavor for Pollard. He reveals that the production process began around three years ago with Questlove, and their dedication to the project is evident in the depth and authenticity of the storytelling.

Pollard emphasizes the opportunity for learning when asked about what he hopes Black viewers will take away from the film. He urges his Black audience to seize the chance to discover untold history that is often excluded from traditional educational curricula. “The African American experience is a part of the American experience,” Pollard passionately asserts, encouraging viewers to embrace this aspect of their heritage. 

As a seasoned filmmaker, Pollard recognizes the significance of portraying history accurately. In the making of the film, he delved deep into research to ensure thorough and precise teachings about the Negro Leagues. He points out that standard education did not cover many aspects of this history. For instance, while most are familiar with Jackie Robinson’s groundbreaking contract to integrate major league baseball, few may know that Branch Rickey, who signed Robinson, refused to compensate the Negro League

“The League’s Impact On Pollard

“You always realize when you’re doing these films, how much of the history is not told,” Pollard stated. “For example, we all learned when we were teens that Jackie Robinson signed a contract with Branch Rickey to integrate major league baseball.” Pollard continued, “But did I learn that Branch Rickey when he signed Jackie Robinson…that he refused to compensate the negro league owners or those teams that he came from.”

The process of creating The League had a profound impact on Pollard personally. He explains:

“The impact that it had on me was that it always makes me feel good to tell our stories.” Pollard advocated for African-Americans in the media industry to prioritize telling stories that reflect the richness and complexity of their experiences. “It is important for all of us in media, no matter which aspect of media, to tell our stories… it’s an important thing that all of us should be doing.” 
Fans eager to embark on this enlightening journey can catch The League, directed by Sam Pollard, in select theaters or stream it on Amazon Prime Video, Redbox, and Vudu for $6.99.

Updated by Dorian Waller on July 18th, 2023

“The League” Documentary Sheds Light On The Profound Impact Of The Negro Leagues On Black America

The League, a compelling documentary showcased at the Tribeca Film Festival, delves into the remarkable influence of the Negro Leagues on the Black community and its transformative effect on the world of baseball. Directed by Sam Pollard and executive produced by Questlove of The Roots, the film features commentary and archival footage from legendary Negro League stars. 

“The League” highlights the profound impact of the Negro Leagues, an all-Black professional baseball league that emerged due to the exclusion of Black players from Major League Baseball. The documentary’s commentary and rare footage feature iconic figures such as Henry “Hank” Aaron, Willie Mays, Buck O’Neil, Jimmie Crutchfield, and Buck Leonard, who all left an indelible mark on the sport. 

“The League”

The film underscores how Negro League teams not only showcased exceptional talent but also served as economic engines, attracting substantial crowds and providing opportunities for local businesses to thrive.

In the face of racial segregation and Jim Crow laws that perpetuated discrimination, the Negro Leagues served as a symbol of resilience and unity within the Black community. Churches even adjusted their schedules, ending services early to allow congregants to attend afternoon games. 

Black newspapers, such as the Chicago Defender, played a vital role in promoting the games, featuring player profiles, statistics, and stories circulating throughout the Negro leagues.

The documentary poignantly addresses the systemic racism endured by Black players during their travels across the United States. Despite their challenges, the style of play in the Negro Leagues, characterized by acrobatic catches, dazzling double plays, and strategic base stealing, left an indelible impact on the Major Leagues.

The emergence of Jackie Robinson as the first Black player in Major League Baseball in 1947 marked a significant turning point. While this historic moment ultimately led to the decline of the Negro Leagues as more Black players transitioned to the Major Leagues, it also paved the way for a new generation of Black stars, including Willie Mays, Roy Campanella, Satchel Paige, Bob Gibson, and Frank Robinson.

Fans eager to experience the profound history showcased in The League can catch the documentary in select AMC theaters starting July 7, followed by a digital release on July 14.

Ice Cube’s BIG3

The League is a powerful reminder of how sports continue to provide avenues for Black representation and empowerment. Another notable example is the BIG3, a basketball league founded by iconic West Coast rapper Ice Cube. Composed of retired NBA players, the BIG3 features a half-court setting and will soon release a docuseries that offers an inside look at the league.

Originally written by Chris Samuel

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