Posted: 02/24/2004




by Del Harvey

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Unshackled is the story of two men—Harold Morris (Burgess Jenkins—Remember The Titans), a white sharecropper’s son from South Carolina, and Marcus “Doc” Odomes (James Black—Love and a Bullet), a black man raised by his mother in the inner city of New York. Both were poisoned by racism and sentenced to life in the Georgia State Penitentiary. Their lives collide when the prison is forced to integrate under federal mandate—it was the last prison in America to do so. After a violent riot, the warden (Stacey Keach—TV’s Titus) threw Harold and Doc into an eight by ten cell and the door was slammed shut.

Inmates and guards were laying odds on which would kill the other.

Both were all-state athletes before entering the prison, and they were used by the warden to recruit other inmates to play in the first organized integrated basketball game in the history of the prison. This game was the catalyst for the successful integration of the prison.

Through living together, fighting together, coaching together, and playing together they came to respect one another, learn from one another, fight for one another, and finally love one another. Through this gripping story of two men’s lives we see how hatred and racism were overcome, and we see the prejudice, pain, suffering, and the thread that binds us all. This is their story.

In a special afterward, Harold Morris talks to parents and teens about the law of the harvest—a simple truth that applies to the physical as well as the spiritual universe: you always reap what you sow in life.

“I am a perfect example of this,” he writes. “What did I sow into my life? I associated with the wrong kinds of people, I drank, I did drugs, I had immoral sex, and I was proud to call myself a racist. What did I reap? Two life sentences at Georgia State Penitentiary for armed robbery and murder. And I almost died there.”

After sixteen years of speaking to millions of teenagers all over the world, Harold Morris gives parents and teens the benefit of his experiences in a colorful narrative that goes right to the heart of the problems today’s teens face and vividly illustrates the crucial importance of making the right choices early in life.

The DVD also stars Morgan Fairchild (TV’s Flamingo Road and Falcon Crest), and is loaded with extras, including: the original “Twice Pardoned, Part 1” 33 minute motivational speech by Harold Morris, interactive menus, scene selection, cast biographies, optional Spanish subtitles, and trailers.

Del Harvey is a writer and the founder of Film Monthly, a devout Chicago Bears fan, loves Grant Park in any season, and teaches screenwriting at Columbia College Chicago.

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