For a high school basketball team in Chicago in 1954, the weight of history joined them every time they stepped onto the court.  


A true story.  Based on the book by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ira Berkow. 



  • The DuSable Panthers:  the first all-Black high school basketball team led by a Black coach to play in the championship game of a racially-integrated Sports program in American history. 
  • With their stylish and break-neck style of play (slam-dunks, fast breaks, long range jumpers), The Panthers helped shape the game of basketball into what it is today, earning this high school team an exhibit in The Basketball Hall of Fame.



  • 1953 - 1954:  The Middle of the Civil Rights Movement (almost seven years after Jackie Robinson's historic turn at bat - and one year before Rosa Parks' historic refusal to move, in protest against Segregation.)
  • The concept of “separate but equal” is being challenged in courts across the country.
  • The Supreme Court rules all racial groups in America are entitled to protection under the 14th Amendment.
  • In a historic case now known as Brown vs. the Board of Education, the Supreme Court rules public education in America is “a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.”



  • Chicago, IL.  
  • 400,000: the city’s Black population in the 1950’s - 10% of the city’s population.
  • Due to Segregation, most of these 400,000 were living in the narrow “Black Belt” on the South Side, known as some of the toughest streets in the city.  



  • Coach Jim Brown:  Determined, passionate, intelligent.  Fights for Civil Rights with every play he makes.
  • Paxton “Sugar” Lumpkin:  Team Captain. Smart, fair-minded, a practical joker.
  • Shellie McMillon:  The Unpredictable One. 
  • “Sweet” Charlie Brown:  The Jock with the soul of a poet.
  • McKinley “Mack” Cowsen: As obsessed with girls as he is with his uniform.
  • Karl Dennis:  Son of a Globetrotter.  A generational love for the game.



  • Art Scheer: The original White Coach of the Panthers.  Scared of Change.
  • Evelyn Carlson:  White female Principal of the all-Black DuSable High School.  Tough, smart, ahead of her time.



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