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Thurgood Marshall is a legend of all legends when it comes to attorneys who fight for civil rights. Lionsgate, the same company that pays Tyler Perry so well, has acquired the screen rights to “Devil In The Grove: Thurgood Marshall, The Groveland Boys, And The Dawn Of A New America.”
The book won a Pulitzer prize and was written by Gilbert King. The book studies how Marshall helped to save four black men who were falsely accused of raping a white woman in 1949. Books like this show just how far we’ve come from the days where black people were being terrorized left and right.
The screenplay is going to be written by Adam Cooper and Bill Collage. Allison Shearmur will be the producer. Lionsgate appears ready to invest in the legacy of Marshall and telling of this very important story.
Devil In The Grove will yield a great role for a fortyish African-American actor to play the iconic Marshall, in a case fought to the Supreme Court before he made history with Brown Vs. Board of Education, which finally eliminated segregation in public schools.
The scribes are also planning a strong role of Mabel Norris Reese, a journalist who covered the case. Initially outraged by the rape charges, she wrote honest stories as the evidence made it clear the “victim” had invented the allegations.
The film has overtones of To Kill A Mockingbird, in a story emblematic of the racism present in the deep South during the time when Jim Crow labor laws made possible places like the segregated Groveland, Florida.
Empowered by cheap labor, that town became a thriving citrus empire, with a racist sheriff ruling with an iron hand. In 1949, a quartet of young black men called The Groveland Four were accused of rape by a 17-year-old girl. The Klan tore through Groveland, sending black men fleeing to the swamps as they burned homes, determined to find the four and lynch them.