BIRTHRIGHT

One Night Only Jun 26

Director: Oscar Micheaux

73min.

Cast: Carman Newsome, Alec Lovejoy, Ethel Moses

 

An idealistic Harvard grad returns to the segregated South to establish a grade school, encountering opposition from both races, with Ethel Moses, aka the “Black Harlow,” and a bevy of moonlighting Cotton Club dancers. BIRTHRIGHT was an early, brutal critique of segregation and Jim Crow laws, which received criticism for its graphic depiction of institutionalized racism. In response, Micheaux published a declaration of his intentions as a filmmaker, reflecting the ideals of his lead character: “I have always tried to make my photoplays present the truth, to lay before the race a cross-section of its own life to view the colored heart at close range… It is only by presenting those portions of the race portrayed in my pictures, in light and background of their true state, that we can raise our people to greater heights.”

2K master from materials preserved by the Library of Congress


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