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Black History Month Thread #6: "Did You Know?" (Movies) [View All]

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Hissyspit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-22-06 01:11 AM
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Black History Month Thread #6: "Did You Know?" (Movies)
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Edited on Wed Feb-22-06 01:14 AM by Hissyspit
Every day for the rest of February, I am posting some form of interesting information regarding African American history.

Oscar Micheaux

Director "Oscar Micheaux, one of the first black filmmakers to deal with racial prejudice in full-length films,' was the first African American to produce a feature film (in 1919) and the first to produce a sound feature film (in 1931). He was definitely the "most prolific black independent filmmaker of the twentieth century," starting his own film company in Chicago in 1918. Possibly the most significant work by Micheaux (pronounced 'Me-Shaw') is Within Our Gates, a 1920 film that responded directly to the success of D.W. Griffith's racist film, Birth of a Nation, the first film screened in the White House (Woodrow Wilson).

"Within Our Gates was intended for negro audiences, but because of some controversial parts (rape and lynching) many exhibitors refused to show it, so very few saw it when it was released." This being the earliest surviving film made by an African American (the only print of which was discovered by historian Thomas Cripps), it was placed on the National Film Registry by Congress recently. In Micheaux's film "one bigoted southern woman living in the north, against the women's suffrage movement for fear that negro women will get the right to vote, expresses her negative sentiment about educating African Americans: 'Thinking will give them a headache.'"

A better critical overview of African American film than I could post here can be found at:

And a great list of movies, documentaries and DVDs by African American directors, concerning the lives of African Americans, or dealing with race themes (such as "passing" films) can be found here:

Film poster for Oscar Micheaux's Murder In Harlem, 1935; Black Film Center/Archive,
Indiana University

Film still from The Girl In Room 20 dir. Spencer Williams (seen on the right), 1946

Original film poster Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song dir. Melvin Van Pebble, 1971; Cinemation (note X rating in corner of poster)

Donald Bogle. Black In American Films And Television. New York: Garland Publishing, 1988.
Jeffrey C. Stewart. 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About African American History. New York: Doubleday, 1996; reprint, New York: Gramercy, Random House, 2006.

Yesterday's Black History Month Thread #5:

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