On one incredible night in 1964, four icons of sports, music, and activism gathered to celebrate one of the biggest upsets in boxing history. When underdog Cassius Clay, soon to be called Muhammad Ali, (Eli Goree), defeats heavyweight champion Sonny Liston at the Miami Convention Hall, Clay memorialized the event with three of his friends: Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) and Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge).
Based on the award-winning play of the same name, and directed by Regina King, One Night In Miami… is a fictional account inspired by the historic night these four formidable figures spent together. It looks at the struggles these men faced and the vital role they each played in the civil rights movement and cultural upheaval of the 1960s. More than 40 years later, their conversations on racial injustice, religion, and personal responsibility still resonate.
The idea for the play which evolved into the movie One Night In Miami…came to Kemp Powers, who wrote the script for both the play and the movie, by accident and maybe by fate.
“I stumbled across the idea while reading a book about the intersection of sports and the civil rights movement. It mentioned that following his first defeat of Sonny Liston, Cassius Clay, who would one day become Muhammad Ali, went back to the Hampton House Hotel in Overtown, Florida near Miami where he spent a quiet evening in conversation with friends Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown,” says Powers. “This was just a little paragraph in a book that kind of blew my mind at the time. I read that paragraph once, then I had to go back and read it a few more times and go, wait a minute.” That accident became an obsession.
“I couldn’t get that paragraph out of my mind. After all, these were four of my heroes. I became very obsessed about this idea of discovering how these men met and why they were hanging out with one another,” explains Powers. “I read every biography I could on each of the four men. I dug up every interview that I could find. The more I learned about them, the more that it seemed natural that they would have been drawn to one another. They were unapologetic in their art. They were unapologetic in their political beliefs. And in the early 1960s to be a free, unapologetic Black man was quite a rarity.”
One Night in Miami is available on Amazon Prime Video on January 15th, 2021.