Spike Lee’s Lil’ Joints

Redemption Song

The rise, fall and ultimate triumph of Howard soccer

The first historically black college to win an NCAA title should’ve been the 1971 Howard University soccer team. Coached by a man named Lincoln Phillips, a collection of men of color from all over the world beat predominantly white powerhouse Saint Louis University 3-2 in the championship game—only to have NCAA take the title away because of two minor infractions. Directed by Kenan K. Holley for Spike Lee’s ESPN series, Lil’ Joints, this film chronicles the rise and fall and rise again of Howard soccer, all within a four-year period. As former Howard student Rock Newman says, “This wasn’t just about a soccer championship. This was black excellence.”