By Joseph Green-Bishop
Metro News Correspondent
The first African American Hollywood screen writer to produce a script that resulted in a film that grossed more than one hundred million dollars has died. Gregory Allen Howard, who also co-wrote the script for the acclaimed movie, “Harriett,” that chronicled the life of Sojourner Truth, was 70 years old when he passed in Maimi Friday after a brief illness, according to his media representative.
The movie that brought Mr. Howard to the world’s attention was “Remember the Titans,” starring Denzel Washington as the head coach of a recently integrated high school football team that won a state championship. The theme of the script was the success of the team despite racial divisions in the community.
On a visit to Virginia, Mr. Howard, who also taught at Howard University in Washington, learned the story of the character played by Denzel Washington in “Remember the Titans.” He tried to interest movie executives in the story, but no one took a chance on Mr. Howard, who had moved to the west coast shortly after graduating from college.
Unable to find a backer, Mr. Howard, a native of Virgina, did not lose hope in his project. His big break came when the acclaimed film producer, Jerry Bruckheimer, decided that the script should be made into a motion picture. The Associated Press named it one of the twenty-five greatest movies about sports ever made.
The film was released in Washington after its Hollywood debut in 2000. Former President Bill Clinton, who then occupied the White House, and Civil Rights leader Reverend Jesse Jackson, were among those invited to see it. People throughout the country were uplifted by the demonstration of how successful teamwork eliminated racial prejudices.
Mr. Howard began writing the script for Harriett more than two decades ago. He said that the project did not get significant backing until the financial success of films like “12 Years a Slave, and “Black Panther.”
In addition to writing screenplays, Mr. Howard expressed his talent as a writer for television. He once said, “I think it takes a Black man to write about Black men.”
Mr. Howard is survived by his brother, Michael, his sister, Lynette and several nieces and nephews.