“THE FORGOTTEN HOOSIERS”
The story that preceded the movie
The basketball thumped on the worn hardwood court in the cold of the desolate field house. The Roosevelt High School team began its drills as the coach blew his whistle. The drills continued throughout the night until they were perfected. There was neither the roar of the crowd nor the jazzy music of the pep band: only the cold Indiana night. This was to be the path of the Roosevelt team to the 1955 Indiana State Basketball Championship Game.
Halfway across the state, Coach Ray Crowe lined his boys up for a lesson in discipline that was to last a lifetime. You see, the Ku Klux Klan conceived of Crispus Attucks High School so that their children wouldn’t have to attend school with blacks. The Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan lived in Indianapolis in the 1920’s. Now here was this all black basketball team coming off a winning season and a loss in the regional playoffs the year before. If the players didn’t sense that they had greatness in them, Coach Crowe did. He would see to it that they attended class, got good grades, did not smoke or drink, observed a 8:30 pm curfew, and practiced working together as team.
This was the journey of two all black high school basketball teams to the Indiana State Championship in 1955: the first time in America. And it happened in the Hoosier state – the birthplace of basketball. The year before, Milan defeated Muncie for the state championship in a David v. Goliath contest. That victory was forever enshrined in the movie “The Hoosiers.” But the black teams of 1955 did not receive the popular accolades for their long journey against intense segregation and prejudice. That recognition had to wait until 2013 at The Lakeshore Classic in Gary, Indiana for the laudatory praise that they earned, as well as, deserved. Ten players from those Roosevelt and Attucks teams took center court to receive their praise. Among them – Dick Barnett and Oscar Robertson.
Robertson and Barnett were destined to face each other on the court for the duration of their championship careers. While they were intense competitors, they were never fighting each other. Rather they were fighting for their families, teams, communities, and respect. This is the story of their journey… The story of “The Forgotten Hoosiers.”