Reds Youth Academy screens Negro Leagues documentary
Emmy-nominated director Lauren Meyer helped celebrate and honor Black History Month in Cincinnati by bringing her documentary, “The Other Boys of Summer,” back to Cincinnati this week.
A project that took Meyer 12 years to complete, “The Other Boys of Summer” explores racism, segregation and civil rights in America, told through the lives of Negro League baseball players and family members. The documentary, which appeared and won awards at several film festivals, includes exclusive interviews with unsung civil rights pioneers who played before and alongside Jackie Robinson, who famously broke the color barrier in the American/National League. The hardships endured and perseverance displayed by these Negro League players helped change baseball and America forever.
“Bringing ‘The Other Boys of Summer’ back to Cincinnati has been really great, because the first community program we did after premiering it on Jackie Robinson’s 100th birthday (Jan. 31, 2019) was at the Reds Youth Academy,” Meyer said. “So to be able to bring it back to Cincinnati and share it with even more people is a great opportunity.”
Among the stops in the Queen City was Great American Ball Park, where Meyer participated in a special screening for the Reds front office staff as part of the organization’s Lunch & Learn program. She also took part in another showing of the documentary at the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum presented by Dinsmore.
But a return to the P&G MLB Cincinnati Reds Youth Academy to feature “The Other Boys of Summer” as part of the Academy’s inaugural RBI High School Season Sendoff punctuated the local tour. The student-athletes enjoyed dinner before watching the documentary, followed by a Q&A with Meyer and former Reds draft pick and scout Marlon Styles Sr.
“Having the chance to show the documentary to the RBI kids is really special because it gives them inspiration and enables them to see other people who may look like them and hear their personal stories of what they went through to pursue their dreams of playing baseball,” Meyer said. “And even though it wasn’t easy, the players in the film are not bitter and they’re not angry. And that really helps inspire and motivate people who watch and listen to their stories.”
“We try to create a variety of ways for our high school-aged student-athletes to grow their perspectives,” explained Reds Community Fund executive director, Charley Frank. “Providing an opportunity for our group to view a powerful documentary together is important. However, doing so in the company of the filmmaker, and having a chance to ask questions afterwards, is a unique experience that we’re proud to provide as part of our RBI Scholars initiative.”
The Academy has thousands of kids come through its doors each year for baseball and softball training, camps and other on-field activities. But the venue is used throughout the year for off-field purposes as well, such as food and equipment drives, educational and character development, and other events celebrating community and diversity. The Reds organization makes it a point of emphasis, through programs like the RBI High School Sendoff, to utilize their Roselawn hub as not just a means for growing the game on the diamond, but also raising major league citizens.