Script File

Letters from Thurgood

This film is a documentary of the early years of Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall.

The film has received the following recognition:
- Official Finalist, Feature Film Competition, Beverly Hills Screenplay Contest, 2014
- Semi-Finalist, Circus Road Screenplay Contest, 2014
-Official Selection, NOVA Film and Music Festival, 2015
-Honorable Mention, Colorado Film Festival, 2015;Official Selection, 2015, Action on Film Festival;. Platinum Award, Summer 2015, International Independent Film Award;-Official Finalist, 2015 Los Angeles Screenplay Contest;-Third Place, Screenplay Competition, 2015, New Film Fest, Los Angeles CA;- Gold Award, Oregon Film Festival, 2015, Screenplay Competition;- Official Selection, 2015 Veterans ,Soldiers and Sailors Film Festival ;- Second Place, Screenwriting Competition, 2016 Mountain Film Festival, Mammoth CA;- Merit Award, April 2016 International New York Film Festival, New York, New York;- Award of Excellence, April 2016, New York Los Angeles Film Festival, New York, New York;- Best Documentary Screenplay over 20 pages, June 2016, GO West Film Festival, Yosemite, CA;- Official Selection, July 2016, Alaska International Film Awards

The film examines Marshall’s life through the prism of his legal education, his early desegregation cases and his trial work in the Jim Crow South of the 30s and 40s.

The film follows a sequence approach and uses critical events of racial strife as the major plot points. The film begins with the Columbia, Tennessee riot of February 1946 –triggered when a racist shopkeeper insulted the mother of a returning World War II Navy veteran. The veteran threw the shopkeeper through a window. The white townspeople gathered to rampage through the black neighborhood and lynch the veteran but the African-American population, (consisting of many World War II veterans), defended their neighborhood. What followed was a pitched battle between the heavily armed Tennessee Highway Patrol and the black residents of Columbia. Over 400 African Americans were arrested for riot and attempted murder. The NAACP sent Marshall to supervise the defense of the arrested men.

The film then flashes back to Marshall’s upbringing in Baltimore, Maryland and the household where he was raised; a household where his father, a railroad porter, regaled his sons with tales from the Baltimore Circuit Court (where he would stop by on his way home from work). His mother, a school teacher insisted that the two Marshall boys obtain professional degrees.
The film then follows Marshall to Howard University Law School where his academic promise was recognized by Dean Charles Houston – the architect of the legal campaign to end racial segregation. The film then follows Marshall to Baltimore where he was drafted by the local grande dame of the African American community – Lillie Mae Jackson – to take his first desegregation case: Murray v. University of Maryland. In Murray, Marshall succeeded in desegregating the University of Maryland Law School – a school that denied Marshall admission because of his race.

Marshall’s success in Murray led to a full time job as trial attorney with the NAACP. The film then turns to the horror of lynching in the South which was a key focus of the NAACP. The film studies the lynchings of Willie Kirkland ( Georgia); Wilder McGowan (Mississippi); and Elbert Williams ( Tennessee) and Marshall’s vain efforts to convince the local and federal authorities to investigate the crimes. The film intersperses these episodes with Marshall’s success in obtaining equal pay for teachers in Maryland and other small but meaningful successes.

The film then turns from Marshall’s day-to-day struggles with cruel and casual racism to Marshall’s campaign to end racial segregation. Under the guidance of Walter White, President of the NAACP and with the assistance of Dean Charles Houston and others, Marshall launched a multi-pronged attack on the daily manifestations of racial segregation in American life: segregation in primary voting; segregation in housing; segregation in transportation and segregation in schools. The film examines those events through the details of Marshall’s law practice – the selection of witnesses for trial; the crafting of briefs and pleadings; the tactics in oral argument. The film also examines the human drama behind the desegregation including the story of Irene Morgan, the young wife returning to Baltimore from Gloucester, Virginia who was jailed for refusing to give up her seat on a Greyhound bus but was vindicated in the United States Supreme Court through Marshall’s advocacy.

The film then turns to the heightened racial conflict precipitated by the return of African American World War II veterans. These men had fought and bled for the United States and were unwilling to return to a state of servitude. Their refusal triggered lynchings and beatings in the South. The film focuses on the horrific blinding of Sergeant Isaac Woodard at the hands of a psychopathic South Carolina sheriff. President Truman ordered the federal authorities to try the sheriff for maiming and assault. The local South Carolina prosecutor, however, was disinterested and lazily complied with Truman’s demands. The sheriff was promptly acquitted by an all-white jury.

The film ends where it began: In Columbia, Tennessee where Marshall successfully gained the acquittal of nearly 400 African Americans. After winning the trial, however, Marshall is nearly lynched by corrupt police officers

The film is intended to depict Marshall as a heroic lawyer; a phase of his life that is not well publicized.

  • Robert F. Redmond, Jr
  • Project Type:
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  • Country of Origin:
    United States
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  • Oregon International Film Award
    Portland Oregon
    November 7, 2015
    Gold Award
  • NOVA Film and Music Festival
    Fairfax. Virginia
    April 10, 2015
    Official Selection, Feature Film Category
  • New Film Fest
    Los Angeles California
    November 7, 2015
    Third Place
  • Action on Film Festival,
    Monrovia CA
    August 14, 2015
    Official Finalist
  • Colorado Film Festival
    Boulder Colorado
    July 7, 2015
    Honorable Mention
  • Circus Road Film Festival
    Los Angeles, California
    August 13, 2014
  • International Independent Film Award
    Los Angeles California
    September 4, 2015
    Platinum Award
  • Veterans, Soldiers and Sailors Film Festival
    Los Angeles California
    October 27, 2015
    Official Finalist
  • Mountain Film Festival
    Mammoth, California
    February 10, 2016
    Second Place, Screenwriting Competition
  • Alaska International Film Awards
    July 2, 2016
    Official Selection
  • GO West Film Festival,
    Yosemite, CA
    July 23, 2016
    Best Documentary Screenplay over 20 pages, June 2016,
  • 2016 Mountain Film Festival,
    Mammoth CA
    March 16, 2016
    Second Place, Screenwriting Competition,
  • International New York Film Festival,
    New York, New York
    April 13, 2016
    - Merit Award,
  • New York Los Angeles Film Festival,
    New York, New York
    April 1, 2016
    - Award of Excellence,
  • New York Screenplay Contest
    New York, New York
    September 19, 2016
    Official Finalist
  • Wexford Film Festival
    Wexford, Ireland
    October 5, 2016
  • GO West Film Festival
    Yosemite California
    June 24, 2016
    Best Documentary Screenplay over 20 pages
  • Alaska International Film Festival
    Anchorage Alaska
    July 22, 2016
    Award Winner
  • GO Independent Film Festival
    Washington D.C.
    September 10, 2016
    Best Documentary Screenplay over 20 pages
  • Bare Bones Film Festival
    Muscogee Oklahoma
    February 17, 2017
Writer Biography - Robert F. Redmond, Jr

Robert F. Redmond, Jr. is an attorney with an interest in promoting, through documentary film, overlooked aspects of American History

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