Questlove bringing Negro League to life with documentary 'The League'

Liz Roscher
·2 min read

Musician and producer Questlove is teaming up with documentarian Sam Pollard to bring the true story of the Negro League to life.

“The League” will explore the rise and fall of the Negro League, and tell that story through the experiences of Negro League umpire Bob Motley. The documentary will show the effect Black baseball had on communities around the country, and what happened after MLB integration effectively killed the entire league.

Via Deadline:

Featuring interviews from Negro League players like Buck O’Neil and Hall of Fame Inductees Monte Irvin, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron, The League celebrates some of the 20th century’s best athletes and entrepreneurs while grappling with America’s difficult march toward equality, including a discussion on the dissolution of the Negro League, which led to the downturn of hundreds of Black-owned businesses.

Team portrait of the Chicago Leland Giants baseball team, of the Negro League, with manager and owner Frank Leland (seated center, in the business suit), Chicago, Illinois, 1907. Among those also pictured are Rube Foster (standing far right) and Pete Hill (standing far left). (Photo by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)
Questlove and director Sam Pollard are teaming up to tell the story of the rise and fall of the Negro League. (Photo by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)

Powerful collaborators

There isn’t a better time to tell this story, and Pollard is the perfect director for this project. He’s dedicated his career to telling Black stories through documentary as both a producer and director. He’s directed a documentary about Sammy Davis Jr., he’s explored the 1979-1981 abductions of approximately 30 Black children from the Atlanta area, and just finished a documentary about the FBI’s aggressive surveillance and harassment of Martin Luther King Jr. Pollard was also nominated for an Academy Award for producing Spike Lee’s “Four Little Girls” documentary.

Questlove, who just finished directing a documentary about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, is thrilled to be able to tell the important story of the Negro League.

“The League was a miraculous achievement,” Questlove told Deadline. “This documentary will tell the story about life on the field, as well as off the field, and so most importantly highlighting race in America through this lens. I am excited to bring this story to life and to also join forces again on another project with my partners at Radical and Sam Pollard.”

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