February 16, 2023

By Keith Underwood

Contributing Writer


A living legend with a passion for history is but one way to define award-winning actor, dancer, choreographer, director and producer, Debbie Allen.  Her work in television and film has no boundaries crossing all genres from comedy, drama, and musicals.

History however feeds her soul.  Because in Allen’s words, “history is the truth.”

Allen has expressed this passion for history since her collaboration with Steven Spielberg on the 1997 historical drama, Amistad.  A film based on the events in 1839 aboard the Spanish slave ship La Amistad, during which Mende tribesmen abducted for the slave trade managed to gain control of their captors' ship off the coast of Cuba.

Today, Debbie Allen along with producer/director Harriet Marin Jones unlock the secrets to the latter’s search for the truth about her grandfather Edward Jones.  King of Kings:  Chasing Edward Jones is the account of a legendary African American who rose to the heights of financial and political prominence in the Depression-era Chicago.


The film makes its debut at the Pan African Film Festival on February 18th at 9:00 pm.

Helping to unfold this story of Edward Jones, a man who shaped the destiny of a city is none other than music, film and television producer, Quincy Jones. Jones (no relation to Harriet Marin Jones) shares his first-hand accounts of Edward Jones through tales from his own childhood. 


Allen who serves as producer along with Marin Jones said, “during a time when there is an attempt to strip our stories from history this man’s story is timely.”


“However, there is no way to take away history, no one can do that because as long as we exist and we share stories there will always be history,” Allen concluded.


Edward Jones was a man who conflicted with both the mob and the Feds, he was even forced into a life on the run.


King of Kings:  Chasing Edward Jones is the rise and fall of the most famous ‘Policy King’ of all times, Harriet uncovers an unparalleled story, providing indispensable insight into America’s ceaseless, divisive relations with race and community.

The policy game was an illegal daily lottery introduced in Chicago in 1885.  Players bet that certain numbers would be picked from a wheel that was spun each evening, which is why policy was also called “playing the numbers.”


When asked about the negative implications of glamourizing a man Quincy Jones himself describes in the film as “a gangster,” Allen said, “We watch illegal activities everyday like police officers beating and killing people, and political leaders serving their own interests for financial gain.  One day, that too will be history.” 

Debbie Allen says she hopes to continue educating our world through the visual art medium, telling profound and thought-provoking stories about history.

Category: Arts & Culture