〉 Walden Media is set to tell the true story of the San Francisco football team that fought racism in 1951.
Walden Media and Mandalay Sports are teaming up to bring the true tale of San Fransico’s ’51 DONS to the big screen. In 1951, the University of San Fransisco’s college football team was one of the best in the country, sitting atop the collegiate standings with an undefeated record, and a number of individual players with professional sports careers and hall of fame inductions on the horizon. For the team, earning an invitation to the Orange Bowl was the icing on the cake of what should have been the perfect season. However, when the Orange Bowl committee informed the team that they could only play if they left their two African American players (Ollie Matson and Burl Toler) behind, the team declined the invitation and took what would become the first stand for racial equality in football, collegiate or otherwise.
A 2014 documentary, also titled ’51 Dons, was released by ESPN. Ron Luscinski directed the hour-long televised special that brought the story into the public eye for the first time. The documentary was critically well received, highlighting the emotional depth and narrative value of the true story. The event has been cited as a benchmark that set the precedent for the Civil Rights Movement a decade later.
Naia Cucukov will oversee the project for the Walden, who are currently on the hunt for a writer that will capture the spirit and tone of the inspirational material.
Lou Chase | Staff Writer