Saturday, January 31, 2015

Rebel Bulldozes His Way to the Big Screen

Independent film producers Ellis R. McGruder III and Nicole McGruder of Parkview Media Group are in the final development phase of a screenplay about Pittsburgh civil rights leader, Nate Smith, entitled “The Man Behind Black Monday.”

The overarching appeal of this screenplay is that it is fresh and new. “The Man Behind Black Monday” is a significant local story that had a national impact and has been untold until now. From lying into the Navy at the age of 12, befriending one of the world’s wealthiest philanthropists, Edgar Kaufmann Jr., shutting down the construction on Three Rivers Stadium to consulting world leaders, Nate’s journey is so remarkable that it teeters on being unbelievable.

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For more information about the screenplay, visit

Nate’s story is the passion project of one of the film’s producers, Ellis R. McGruder III, who is the son of Nate Smith’s chief strategist, Ellis McGruder Jr. It is inspired by the life of this middle school dropout and amateur fighter, who evolves into a national leader. Using unconventional and even militant tactics to create minority access to coveted and racially exclusionary unions, he successfully creates the most successful labor-training program in the country.

McGruder explains that,

“Nate and my father were dedicated to fighting for minority rights due to the fact that Blacks were systemically denied access to the higher paying union jobs, leaving black workers unable to earn fair and sustainable wages. African Americans in the city of Pittsburgh, during the 1950s and 60s, held only about two percent of the building trade and skilled construction jobs. Nate is credited for getting over 17,000 African Americans access to the unions. I always knew that my father and Nate were doing important work, but as I started to research more after my father’s death, I gleaned a clearer understanding of the far-reaching national impact of their efforts. I became committed to getting this film in front of the world. Now is the right time to tell their story.”

Parkview Media Group is kicking off an expansive social-media campaign (called “Hire Me or Run Me Over”) during the month of February to inform America of the significant contributions of Smith while also stimulating constructive discussion about the parallels of wage disparity in the workplace then and now.

For McGruder, the production of this film marks a return to his roots. After graduating from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1994, he jumped into healthcare infomatics and also did a bit of amateur writing. He spent the past five years developing the story along with his wife, Nicole. The couple are also co-founders of the non-profit, Continued Pathways (an organization that promotes education of labor rights and providing resources for professional and civic leadership development).

For additional information or interview requests, contact Ellis R. McGruder III at 

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