Through the Banks of the Red Cedar


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Ticket Prices
General Public:$12.00 (+ $2 online fee)
Members:$9.00 (no online fee)
Film Info
Program:New Releases
We the People: Required Watching
Virtual Cinema
Culture & Society
Women Directors
Minnesota Made
Black Perspectives
Social Justice
Release Year:2018
Runtime:69 min
Festivals & Awards:MSPIFF 2018 Official Selection
Website:Official Website
Director:Maya Washington
Producer:Maya Washington
Cinematographer:TJ Schwingle
Screenwriter:Maya Washington
Editor:Anisha Acharya
Composer:Matt Koskenmaki


Stream Maya Washington's documentary Through the Banks of the Red Cedar starting Friday, February 18 through Thursday, February 24.

We the People: Required Watching Live Virtual Conversation: Monday, February 21 at 7:00pm. Registration is FREE.

MSP Film Society and Magers & Quinn Booksellers present a special We the People: Required Watching live virtual conversation with Maya Washington, writer of the new memoir "Through the Banks of the Red Cedar: My Father and the Team That Changed the Game," football legend Gene Washington, and MSP Film Society Programmer Craig Laurence Rice.



About the Book

Through the Banks of the Red Cedar: My Father and the Team That Changed the Game

Based on the award-winning documentary Through the Banks of the Red Cedar coming to PBS in February 2022, Maya Washington crafts a warm & deeply moving memoir about a daughter’s love for her father & her appreciation for how he & others changed the game of football forever.

Growing up Maya Washington didn’t see her father as the world knew him to be—Michigan State University and Minnesota Viking football legend, Gene Washington—she knew him as Dad. Based on Maya’s award-winning documentary, Through the Banks of the Red Cedar: My Father and the Team That Changed the Game (Little A; January 1, 2022) follows her journey of uncovering just how difficult Gene’s youth in segregated Texas was, and his unorthodox rise to college football stardom at MSU during the height of the Civil Rights movement. 

In this coming-of-age story, Maya narrates her father’s experiences with racial discrimination as a Black athlete from the segregated South and how his perseverance contributed to her own limited privilege. Maya’s life-altering experience of attending the funeral of Bubba Smith, her father’s childhood friend and teammate, revealed to her how much the world of football shielded her from the harsh realities that her father had faced. 

After making the decision to learn more about her father’s past, Maya set out to interview the family members, friends, coaches, and teammates at the center of Gene’s story in order to learn more about the game that was so important to her father. As Maya’s eyes are opened to the reality of her father’s struggles with racism growing up in the South during Jim Crow, she also begins to reflect on her own experiences in her home city of Minneapolis, Minnesota and forms a deeper sense of gratitude for her parents’ devotion to opening doors for her that were closed to them during their youth.

Ultimately, Through the Banks of the Red Cedar expresses the growing bond between a father and his daughter, who comes to appreciate the game that changed both of their lives. Maya creates an inspiring depiction of Gene, not only as a star on the football field but also as a father to his three daughters. Maya expounds on controversial themes but expresses a sincere hope for unity.

About the Film

In 1963 Michigan State Head Coach Duffy Daugherty and 23 African American young men seized the opportunity of a lifetime. The daughter of Minnesota Vikings football legend Gene Washington deepens her connection to her father as she uncovers how the first fully integrated college football team in America changed the game forever. Maya, Gene’s youngest daughter, traces her father's journey from the segregated South to the North, and explores the impact of this legacy on the present generation.

Over the course of a modern football season, Maya uncovers both the triumphs and defeats of her father's teams and develops a newly formed appreciation for the game and a deeper connection to her father, just in time to witness MSU Spartan Football team ascend to national prominence 50 years later.

The racial demographics seen on the field today are due in large part to Hall of Fame coach Duffy Daugherty’s innovative approach to recruiting African American men from the South to MSU in the 1960s, known as the “Underground Railroad” of college football. The success of MSU’s 1965 and 1966 back-to-back Big Ten and National Champion teams forces America to re-think prejudices that previously kept African American players from earning scholarships or starting positions. Gene Washington later makes pro-football history alongside Spartan teammates Bubba Smith, Clinton Jones, and George Webster when they are selected in the first round, within the top eight picks of the 1967 draft.

We the People: Required Watching is a screening series of films that speak powerfully to systemic inequality, followed by conversations with filmmakers and community leaders discussing ways we can support social justice and anti-racism efforts within our communities. The series is generously supported by the George Family Foundation and KNOCK, Inc. All We the People online discussions are generously supported by Kelly and Mike Palmer.