Racism Enacted Throughout the History of Black Films Essay

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The history of African Americans in early Hollywood films originated with blacks representing preconceived stereotypes. D.W. Griffith’s 1915 film, Birth of a Nation, stirred many controversial issues within the black community. The fact that Griffith used white actors in blackface to portray black people showed how little he knew about African Americans. Bosley Crowther’s article “The Birth of Birth of a Nation” emphasizes that the film was a “highly pro-South drama of the American Civil War and the Period of Reconstruction, and it glorified the role of the Ku Klux Klan” (76). While viewing this film, one would assert that the Ku Klux Klan members are heroic forces that rescue white women from sexually abusive black men. Griffith …show more content…

Micheaux’s purpose behind his film blacks about the issues of racism and stereotypes. The film opens with a young educated African American woman, Sylvia, who travels to the North to raise $5,000 to save a local school for black children. During her visit, Sylvia meets a handsome white man, Dr. Vivian. Along the way, she also encounters a wealthy philanthropist, Elena. After Elena learns about Sylvia’s work, she decides to give her the money that she needs. However, Elena’s southern friend discourages her from giving the donation and says that “blacks cannot get an education.” (Please Cite this source). Conversely, Elena decides to give $50,000 which will be more than enough the save the school. According to Bogle, Within Our Gates sparked a controversy with a lynching scene. The lynching scene shows a white mob lynching Sylvia’s adopted parents and almost killing their son, and also the mob lynched the white man’s servant, Efrem. In addition, one particular scene shows Sylvia being chased by a white man who almost raped her but notices that Sylvia is his daughter. In the end, Dr. Vivian confesses his love for Sylvia and the film ends with their marriage. Within Our Gates plot and characters challenges the prejudice shown in the film Birth of a Nation. For instance, the character Efrem is an example of Uncle Tom because he tells his white master

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