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New "Made in NY" Film - On the Shoulders of Giants - Aims to Highlight a Forgotten Moment in Black History

February 9, 2011 - A new film, created by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and focused on an important piece of black history, has been released nationwide through major cable companies’ video on demand services. On the Shoulders of Giants tells the story of the Harlem Renaissance Big Five, more commonly known as The Harlem Rens - the greatest basketball team most people have never heard of.

In 1939, the world of professional basketball was segregated and “colored” teams could not compete against white teams, nor vie for league championships. The Harlem Rens was the best of the black teams, yearning for a chance at a national championship. The players beat tremendous odds, from pervasive racism to the Great Depression, and went on to become the first world champions of professional basketball when they defeated every other team, including the best white teams, for this coveted title.

The Harlem Rens evolved into role models for black America during their time, but until now their story has remained relatively unknown. In an effort to change that, the film, which shot in New York City at locations such as the Rucker Park basketball court in Harlem and the 69th Regiment Armory on the East Side, will be shown in high schools throughout the country during Black History Month. To celebrate the east coast premiere of the film, local high school students attended a screening at the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture on February 9. Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment Commissioner Katherine Oliver was on hand to deliver opening remarks.

A high school level educational study guide has also been created for the film. The guide is developed by the Skyhook Foundation, which was established by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, . The study guide developed for this program is endorsed by the National Council for the Social Studies (“NCSS”) and supported by UCLA for distribution to social studies teachers nationwide. The aim of the study guide is to increase knowledge and awareness among U.S. high school students of the impact of the Harlem Renaissance and its leading figures in sports, music, literature and history.

For more information about On the Shoulders of Giants, visit kareemabduljabbar.com/film.
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