by Tim Gordon
We remember Black Reel Award-winning screenwriter Gregory Allen Howard who died after a brief Illness. Howard was 70.
Howard was the first African American screenwriter for a $100 million drama with Remember The Titans. The success of the movie was additionally historic since he also was the only Black screenwriter to write a spec script that achieved that milestone, also for the same film, which starred Denzel Washington and was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer.
Additional credits included his Black Reel Award-winning screenplay for Ali, starring Will Smith and Jamie Foxx, directed by Michael Mann, as well as the award-winning stage play Tinseltown Trilogy. Howard was a two-time winner of the NAACP Image Awards and also won the Christopher Award, the Howard University Paul Robeson Award for artistic excellence, and the Heartland Film Festival Award for screenwriting excellence.
His first feature assignment more than 28 years ago for Disney was titled Freedom Fire, which later was made as Harriet. Eventually, the movie was made and starred Cynthia Erivo, Leslie Odom Jr., Janelle Monae, and Joe Alwyn, with direction by Kasi Lemmons.
Howard was born in Norfolk, VA., and after lots of movement from his family, eventually settled in Vallejo, Calif. He went on to graduate from Princeton with a degree in American History, which served him well with his focus on historical topics in his screenwriting.
He learned the story of the 1971 TC Williams High School football team, the Titans. Howard, who played offensive linemen on his high school and college football teams, was inspired by the unique story of the integration of the championship high school football team that people in the town of Alexandria, Virginia credited for the town’s positive race relations.
As a writer and producer, Greg wrote The Harlem Renaissance, a limited series for HBO; Misty, the story of prima ballerina Misty Copeland for New Line Cinema. He also wrote This Little Light, the Fannie Lou Hamer story for Chris Columbus’s 1492 Pictures. Most recently, he wrote the civil rights project Power to the People for producer Ben Affleck and Paramount Pictures.