Black History in Cinemas

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    A history of Black representation in film Intro Pt. 1

    The historical setting throughout the 1900’s was a time of immense change for all Americans. This period of time was remarkably influential as Americans were compelled to accommodate a change in values, morals, cultural ideals, and a shift in social and political beliefs. My virtual exhibit will mainly revolve around the history of black representation in the film industry, and will focus on how these milestones influenced a change in racial attitudes over time.
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    Intro Pt. 2

    Most of the significant contributors to the black film industry had a common political agenda in attempts to influence a change in cultural ideals and values, alongside with the overall goal of achieving racial equality. Many of these contributors expressed their views through the messages within the films which challenged racial stereotypes and focused on informing the audience about the social and political movements throughout history.
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    Intro Pt. 3

    Throughout this exhibit someone may conclude that the purpose is not only to inform the audience of the most compelling milestones in black contributions to the film industry, but also to provide some background context towards the experiences that the black community faced, while connecting it with the viewpoint of people's racial attitudes at the given time.
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    Intro Pt. 4

    America was rapidly evolving throughout this time period, and was changing so quickly that a vast amount of the population felt uncomfortable in regards to the idea of the black community coming closer towards obtaining racial equality. During this time period of development, it became more easily accessible to receive the latest report through the newspaper or a broadcast.
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    Intro Pt. 5

    This result of rapid change did not only have an impact on the culture of the film industry, but also led to a general shift of people’s social and political viewpoints throughout this time. These details alone provide support in response towards the main research question of how black representation in the film industry affected a shift in racial attitudes over the given course of time.
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    Intro Pt. 6

    Most of the influential black contributors to the film industry were determined to protest the stereotypes of race, which ultimately played a major role in impact towards the foundation of racial equality throughout time. Many of these black influencers were extremely supportive of political movements like the Civil Rights movement, which also was one of the many impacts that shaped reform across the country.
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    Intro Pt. 8

    The history of black representation in the film industry surrounding this era was very inspirational as many of these contributors at the time were not accepted by others and deprived from equality. The goal of my exhibit is to inform the audience of the accomplishments within the black film industry while reflecting upon the hardships and suffers that they managed to cope with, and connecting these factors towards the perspectives of racial attitudes during the given time.
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    Intro Pt. 7

    Although I was not alive for most of this era, I believe that my exhibit can further help an individual interpret how some of these significant milestones impacted cultural ideas and values, and more importantly how these factors influenced racial equality. I have devoted an extensive amount of time researching the feedback of some of these films through newspaper articles, and watching sections of the films I used in order to expand my overall understanding in regards to my topic.
  • The Homesteader

    The Homesteader
    “The Homesteader” was considered to be the first ever African American feature film, and was produced by Oscar Micheaux who was arguably one of the most influential black contributors in regards to film. As the original film has been lost to time, it is acclaimed that this silent film was the first movie to ever be produced by this prolific filmmaker who remained in the cinema industry longer than any other black director.
  • The Homesteader (Pt. 2)

    The Homesteader (Pt. 2)
    His achievements in the film industry were truly remarkable when considering all of the obstacles that colored people faced during the time. Micheaux differentiated himself from other filmmakers as he openly addressed sensitive topics which other producers typically tried avoiding. In his films he attempted to manifest the qualities required to be a successful black man, and also used his films to challenge the many racial injustices that black people dealt with.
  • Gone With the Wind

    Gone With the Wind
    This film was released during Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency, and the historical context took place one year prior to the establishment of the Fair Employment Committee which desegregated the U.S. military. This film highlights life throughout the period of the Civil War and reconstruction, however it differs from most Civil War films as it advocates the South and condemns the North.
  • Gone With the Wind (Pt. 2)

    Gone With the Wind (Pt. 2)
    The film promotes racial inequality through the use of many unfair generalizations and negative stereotypes of its black characters. I found that there are many parallels between the movie and the era, which allowed for me to grasp a better understanding of the general racial attitude during the time as the stereotypical portrayal of blacks in the film is that they are lazy and simple minded.
  • Gone With the Wind (Pt. 3)

    Gone With the Wind (Pt. 3)
    This suggests that during the time only the far-left and black community took issue to the portrayal of race. The film progressed society as it included the first ever black actress to win an Oscar. This progression represented the spark of equal employment in the black community, and also likely shifted peoples racial attitudes in regards to the cinema during the time.
  • The Man

    The Man
    The historical context in which this film took place was right around the time period when the civil rights movement was beginning to progress. This film depicts the social and racial challenges that colored people faced during the time, and was the first ever drama that aimed to target a mixed audience despite featuring an entirely black cast.
  • The Man (Pt. 2)

    The Man (Pt. 2)
    As the film gained attention it produced political debate throughout the country, and ultimately had an effect on the progression of civilization. With the civil rights movement beginning to take shape, this film helped the black community establish a sense of hope and a drive to fight for their rights during the time.
  • The Man (Pt. 3)

    The Man (Pt. 3)
    As the film was intended to target both races, it forced white people to acknowledge their privileges through the perspective of a black man's hardships, while also attempting to convince them that their racial beliefs are immoral. The movie release also affected the political economy as it helped shift relations between race and labor through the continuation of the civil rights movement.
  • First Black superhero film

    First Black superhero film
    A long time ahead of the release of “Black Panther” came “The Meteor Man,” which was the first ever black superhero film. This film marked for a revolutionary advance in the industry, and furthermore represented a huge gain towards equality for the black community.
  • First Black superhero film (Pt. 2)

    First Black superhero film (Pt. 2)
    By this time cultural ideals and values shifted in different directions, and people were starting to become more conservative than they had been before. By now the media began to put on blast the big issues and events in regards to racism, but one problem that still remained was that the media didn't portray what we should all come to realize, in that racism is very present in the little things of life.
  • Bibliography

    “Homesteader, The (1919).”, 2018, “‘Nothing But a Man’ (Cinema V, 1964).” The Library of Congress, Gone With the Wind. 1939. Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America, (Accessed April 1, 2021.)
  • Bibliography (Pt. 2)

    Mark Caro TRIBUNE, STAFF WRITER. 1993. Bright guy: 'meteor man' robert townsend conquered poverty, tough times. Chicago Tribune (1963-1996), Aug 03, 1993. (accessed April 1, 2021).