Thursday, October 9, 2008

Don't Count On Hollywood to Get Anything Right About West Virginia

The Ernie Davis story is coming out soon on the big screen and West Virginians will not be pleased.

Movie makers wanted to portray the Syracuse star from the 1960s breaking racial barriers and overcoming intolerance. The trouble is that West Virginia University fans are used as a prop in that story. In the movie they hurl racial epithets and garbage at Davis while he plays in Morgantown. The trouble is that the scene never happened, according to Syracuse's starting quarterback that year, Dick Easterly. Players from both teams agree that West Virginia fans never mistreated Davis.

West Virginia had its share of racial problems in that time, but no more than the rest of the nation. In fact, school desegregation under Governor Cecil Underwood never saw the violence or protests registered in other areas. Will Hollywood make a movie about that?

We'll see Hollywood stars lying about movies being banned in West Virginia because of intolerence, but never see anyone discussing how WVU fans embraced one of the first black quarterbacks in college football that became a bona fide star. We'll never see the story about how Charles Minimah rose from his teenage years in the Nigerian Army to be the GOP nominee for Secretary of State.

The inaccuracies did not just insult us, but also Davis's coach and teammates. Tensions were portrayed among players and coaches that simply did not exist. The filmmakers insult the memory of a gifted athlete and class human being by failing to get his story straight.

West Virginia has plenty of problems and it does not need ignorant Hollywood writers to pile on.

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