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African Americans in Film

In the early 20th century, African Americans were excluded from typical American life, and their roles in films mirrored. Their representation in Hollywood was slow to emerge, their characters few, and their depiction full of ineptness and aggression. In more recent years however, – after decades of misrepresentations – they have come to be complex beings, with their true history and stories revealed. Although, of course as every type of people has to deal with, stereotypes still remain.

As the camera was becoming a major art form in America, society was being depicted in front of millions of people on the screen. At the time of film’s inauguration, the United States was going through a time called the Reconstruction, in which America was healing from the Civil War (which freed involuntary slaves and gave freed male slaves the right to vote), and a great number of former slaves were trying to gain their equality. Not everyone in America was ready to relinquish this thought that black people were unable to subsist on their own, and thus negative attitudes and stereotypes towards people of color developed. Racist America was making sure that the newly emancipated peoples did not believe their capabilities, so that they may have secured their racial superiority.

One of the first major films to shed negative light on the African Americans was southerner D.W. Griffith’s “The Birth of a Nation” (1915). The picture is considered one of the first feature length American films, at ten reels long, but what makes it so noteworthy is its historical significance. The movie, based off of Thomas Dixon, Jr.’s novel “The Clansman” (1905), which implicitly glorifies the Ku Klux Klan, shows life pre and post Civil War, as well as everything that falls in between. The film, though extremely popular, stirred up much controversy. The blacks in the feature are seen as submissive, naïve weaklings or cruel, violent rapists, who must be eradicated in order to “save” the south. Basically, you see white actors painted in black, acting like complete imbeciles. At the end of the film, the KKK righteously saves the southerners and promotes white supremacy. During its stay in theaters, riots and protests broke out, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was not too thrilled. Still, the picture remained one of the highest grossing films of its day, doing extensive damage to the way African Americans were seen socially and historically. Even in the 1970's it was still making history, as the Ku Klux Klan was using it as a recruitment tool.

Another problem with “The Birth of a Nation”, as well as many other ill reflected pieces portraying blacks, was the actors. When you look closely at the darker colored characters on screen, you notice that they are not black actors at all, but white actors in black face (theatrical makeup to make one look African American). When the actors would put on their black makeup, wear their frizzy wig, and paint their lips big and pink, their demeanor instantly changed to their own viewpoint of the blacks; they talked in a unintelligible dialect, made themselves seem dumb, and acted as though they were foolish ignorant creatures.  In dressing in black face, they showed a great disrespect to the true African American peoples.

Luckily, the same year “The Birth of a Nation” came out, George and Noble Johnson founded the first African American owned studio, The Lincoln Motion Picture Company. They started “race movies”, or movies in which the entire cast is black and it is aimed for an all black audience. They attempted to create a whole new experience for those suffering from discrimination, so that they, too, may be able to enjoy one of America’s new favorite pastimes: watching movies.

D.W. Griffith responded to the negative feedback of his movie by releasing “Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Throughout the Ages” (1916), a film about the results and endurance of social and racial prejudice throughout olden times and the present day. He strived to show that he himself was not racist, and that intolerance can be harmful and dangerous. Ironically, it does not identify any intolerance towards Negroes, and failed to win any prosperity. In the eyes of African Americans especially, he was still the same bitter southerner.

In 1916 The Lincoln Motion Picture Company released their first movie, “The Realization of the Negro’s Ambition”, which portrays a black man as the protagonist of the story. Many more race films followed, like vaudeville performer Bert Williams’ “A Natural Born Gambler” (1916) and “Fish” (1916). He became the first black person to write, direct, produce, and act in a movie with the two Biograph features, as no film studio had ever given a Negro full control over his own pictures. Notwithstanding, the movies served a purpose of only entertaining the segregated black population, as society was still very much separate. Whichever white Americans did end up seeing these movies, despite many social barriers, were affected profoundly.
In 1919 “race movie” director Oscar Micheaux finally began making the long-awaited response to “The Birth of a Nation”, with his own Micheaux Film and Book Publishing Corporation feature “Within Our Gates” (1920). It marvelously conveys the racial situation in America during the brutal years of the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow, and the Great Migration, with a focus on “The New Negro”. The “New Negro” came to be a term that marked a black person who stridently advocated for racial dignity and would not succumb to the practice of Jim Crow segregation (a “separate but equal” status given to blacks between 1876 and 1965 that ultimately led to the division of races and discrimination against darker ethnicities). It is often synonymous with the Harlem Renaissance.

Still, the great majority of American films featured a white cast in black face, openly playing ignorant to the history of the Africans which white colonists had been taking from their native homes since 1619. They “acted” black, mocking and ridiculing the supposed inferior and dim race. Although as time passed, black actors were becoming more apparent in American cinema. However, they were playing the subsidiary parts of maids, bus drivers, servants, nannies, farmers, ignorant southerners, and imprisoned criminals – not the most positive and dignified representations. Such an example is Lincoln Perry, America’s first black movie star. His is most famous for his portrayal of Stepin Fetchit, an incoherent, bemused, good-for-nothing dupe in the movie “In Old Kentucky” (1927). He made millions by playing the “laziest man in the world”, and by cementing the negative stereotypes that many other colored Americans were trying to obliterate. It must be noted, though, that according to film historian Mel Watkins, Perry was in actuality the opposite of his characters and an extremely “intelligent” and “amazingly complex man”.
In 1927 mainstream Hollywood at last produced “Uncle Tom's Cabin”, which features African American actor James L. Lowe as the title role in the film about the destruction that slavery can have on a family. Only two years following, “Hearts in Dixie” (1929) and “Hallelujah!” (1929) were released in Hollywood, boasting entirely Negroid casts. Another two years gone, Micheaux came out with the first ever full length sound film from a black director, “The Exile” (1931). It had a great turnout with sold out shows and outstanding reviews.

However, in 1934’s “Imitation of Life”, racial equality was not an objective, as even African American housekeeper Juanita Moore’s own light skinned daughter pretends to be white. Although, there is some truthfulness to the film, in that it does portray the advantages of the whites, and the opposing adverse roles given to the colored. Nevertheless, the assumption in the film is that the whites and blacks have their separate niches, and these positions are not to be changed or questioned.

1939 brought a new epic, similar in status to “The Birth of a Nation”, although with toned down stereotypes. “Gone With the Wind” does feature a number of black cast members playing submissive servants, maids, and nannies, but also includes a character referred to as Mammy. Mammy, played by Hattie McDaniel, is the head women of the plantation, and has been main character Scarlet O’Hara's nanny since birth. She differs from the rest of her fellow subservient slaves, in that she has the nerve to talk back. McDaniel consequently won the 1940 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for this role, becoming not only the first African American actor to be nominated for an Oscar, but the first to even attend the awards ceremony. Some critics protested against McDaniel portraying what they considered to be a glorified slave playing in to the stereotype, but she responded with “I’d rather play a maid than be one.”

In 1942 black actors everywhere made somewhat of an advancement, for finally an African American actor (actress Lena Horne) signed a long term contract with a major studio (MGM). Unfortunately, it seemed to be only half a step, for the studio made sure that every scene she played in could be cut out for viewers in the south.

By the 1940's the number of race films had greatly diminished due to the Great Depression and resulting bankruptcies. Films like “Am I Guilty?” (1940), “Pinky” (1949), and “The Jackie Robinson Story” (1950) served exception, but by the 1950’s, the race movie was pretty much dead. There were some actors that persevered during the turbulent times, although most of them succumbed to the stereotypical roles that society placed on them. Hollywood was not without its Negro defenders though, too, such as stars Lena Horne, Theresa Harris, and Paul Robeson.

The civil rights movement began in 1950, although Hollywood took a bit longer to recognize the importance of African American equality. In the mid fifties the film industry was finally catching on to the importance of acknowledging what the general public deemed “the race situation.” As the awareness spread, movies like “Carmen Jones” (1954) and “Island in the Sun” (1957) came out, further highlighting national consciousness of the racial inequality present. In 1955, Dorothy Dandridge, star of “Carmen Jones”, helped Hollywood move along even more, by becoming the earliest African American to be nominated for a Best Actress Oscar. With “Island in the Sun”, more boundaries were broken, for it features mainstream film’s first interracial kiss (between Dandridge and John Justin).

The sixties brought radical changes to the portrayals of colored peoples in movies. This was during the time of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s public advocacy for equal rights, desegregation of the Little Rock school system, Rosa Park's famous refusal to sit in the back of the bus, leading to a boycott of the Montgomery bus line, and the Freedom Riders. In other words, the treatment of the blacks was a hot topic in America, and the civil rights movement was in full force. Films like “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1962) made the African American population come across as respectable and good.

One African American star in particular rose to fame during this time, with Hollywood watching his every move. Sidney Poitier appeared alongside mainstream Hollywood actors like Clark Gable, Rock Hudson, and Jeff Chandler, before landing his first starring role in “The Defiant Ones” (1958), the film that brought him to the attention of filmgoers, black and white. For this role, he and his co-star, white Tony Curtis, were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. However, it was not until Poitier’s Best Actor Oscar win in “Lillies of the Field” (1963) that he finally got the respect he deserved.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 led to even greater change for the African Americans, outlawing major forms of racial discrimination and segregation. Soon after, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was implemented, ending discriminatory voting systems that were to blame for the disenfranchisement of colored peoples in the U.S. With these new laws came even more success for the Negroes. For example, Sidney Poitier starred in four more major pictures, “The Bedford Incident” (1965), “The Slender Thread” (1965), “The Greatest Story Ever Told” (1965), and “A Patch of Blue” (1965), in which Shelley Winters became the first white actress to win an Oscar in a role supporting a black actor. In 1967 Poitier acted in three more films, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”, “To Sir, With Love”, and “In the Heat of the Night”, letting audiences everywhere know that the black man was going to remain a force in Hollywood.

1968 brought a tragedy to civil rights activists, for the influential, peace and equality promoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.  On the bright side, this event opened the eyes of many Americans who played ignorant to the effects of racism. A year later, Gordon Parks became the first director of a major film for a major film studio, an action that would have made Dr. King proud. His film, “The Learning Tree” (1969), follows the life of a black teenager in 1920’s Kansas through his family relationships, struggles, and aspirations, depicting the true nature of human values.

1971 marked the creation of a new film genre, “blaxploitation”, which features strong black characters that have had enough pushing around and are fed up with “The Man”. They could be seen across many different types of films, including dramas, comedies, westerns, horrors, and more. The features that started the movement, Melvin Van Peeples’ “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song!” (1971) and Parks’ “Shaft” (1971), helped Hollywood realize the money that could be made from the untouched black urban market. As a result, between 1970 and 1980 over two hundred “blaxploitation” pictures were released by both independent and major film studios. Movies include “Blacula” (1972), “Superfly” (1972), and “A Piece of the Action” (1977).

In 1973 two black stars were nominated for the Best Actress Academy Award, Diana Ross for “Lady Sings the Blues” (1972) and Cicely Tyson for “Sounder” (1973). Television made a leap forward not too long after, with “Roots” (1977), a miniseries exploring the lives of a slave, his ancestors, and his descendents. It illustrates the evilness of the practice of enslavement, and shows the fact that African Americans have been subjected to suffrage since they first arrived in America.

The eighties brought with them endless possibilities for the African Americans, for they were now seen taking over their own representations. They were everywhere: in film, television, and music. With them came their heritage, which America had been reluctant to learn about. Black actors also appeared in features that made no notice of their skin color, letting them play roles equivalent to the ones whites were playing. In 1982 colored actor Eddie Murphy became the first person to make $1 million in a film debut, with “48 Hours”. In 1985 Oprah Winfrey produced the highly influential and inspiration feature about the life and trials of a young African American woman, Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple”. A year later, Winfrey adopted her own television series on CBS, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” (1986-2011), which serves to explore social issues and inspire its viewers. Ending in 2011, it is the still the highest ranked talk show in American history.

In 1986, three years after being signed into law, Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday was observed as a national holiday, signifying the change that had come over America within a relatively short amount of time. 1989 served as a year for celebration, with movies like “Glory”, “Driving Miss Daisy”, and “Do the Right Thing”. The latter, a fictional story about a race riot in New York City’s Bedford-Stuvyesan area, which illustrates the effects of racial discrimination, marked the beginning of director’s Spike Lee’s genius, even earning him an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

The nineties followed the same trend as their predecessor: people of color were featured both in front and behind the camera, putting out quality mainstream and independent works. Whoopi Goldberg became the second African American to win a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in the film “Ghost” (1990). At the same awards ceremony, writer-director John Singleton became the first black person to receive a nod for Best Director for his independent drama “Boyz N the Hood” (1990). Two years later, Spike Lee came out with another highly insightful flick, this time chronicling the life of the notorious and influential Black Nationalist leader, “Malcom X” (1992). The film also scored actor Denzel Washington his first nomination at the Oscars.

In fact, the decade made Washington the new Sidney Poitier, as he was consistently appearing in a number of motion pictures like “Philadelphia” (1993) and “The Bone Collector” (1999). Other black actors that arose during this time include Will Smith (“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” (1990-96), “Independence Day” (1996), “Men in Black” (1997), Angela Bassett (“Malcom X” (1992), “What’s Love Got to Do With It” (1993), “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” (1998)), Cuba Gooding Jr. (“Boyz N the Hood” (1991), “Jerry McGuire” (1996)), and many more, in addition to the actors like Morgan Freeman, who had been acting for quite some time before.

The new century followed pretty much how the previous two had. While stereotypes were still present in some films, others showed the real nature of the Negroes. However, this can be said about all races, for none is without its labels and misconceptions. The most we can hope for is that the truth be put out there, for others to judge and take in on their own. Thankfully, the African Americans undoubtedly achieved that by the 2000's.

In 2002, the first African American actress finally won an Oscar for Best Actress. This was Halle Berry, for her part in “Monster's Ball” (2001). In the same year, Denzel Washington earned his second Academy Award for Best Actor in the film “Training Day” (2001), making 2002 the very first year that both the Best Actor and Best Actress Oscars went to black individuals. In 2005, Jamie Foxx won a Best Actor Academy Award for his performance in the touching drama “Ray” (2004), and Morgan Freeman got his first win (and fourth nomination) for “Million Dollar Baby” (2004).

Nowadays, black is equivalent to white when it comes to the cinema. Both are featured in films from horror to comedy, direct independent and mainstream flicks, and earn prestigious awards and honors for their works. There are some stereotypes that still do turn up in everyday viewings – criminal, violent, hooded – but for the most part, American film is trying to look past the typecasting and is able to feature black characters as though they are not of any color – black, white, or any other.

Exceptions do arise, as racism still exists in present day as it does in every part of the world. For example, 2009’s “The Blind Side” features a white family saving a black child from homelessness, a stereotype given to many African Americans in the country. However, the stereotype has some truth in it, as the National Poverty Center calculated that even in 2010, Negro groups had a poverty rate 17.5% more than whites. Not that this is any excuse as to the stereotypes of blacks being poor, but as slavery was once their main problem, this has come to replace it in how they are sometimes depicted.

“Precious” (2009) follows a similar pattern, in that the lead character, an overweight, illiterate, pregnant teen, is in a compromising living situation. However, this film portrays her strength and courage, building back up the African American community. 2010 saw “For Colored Girls”, a picture that seeks to show the effects that racism and sexism still have on our society today. “The Help” (2011) is the most recent mainstream film that focuses on the issues dealing with racism. It is a story told from the perspective of an African American woman during the civil rights movement in the Deep South. The moving film illustrates a time in history that helped make today what it is, and conveys the message that we need to respect our working class, no matter who they are.

African Americans have made it far – from their early depictions as dense and violent, to their stereotype of poverty stricken, and on to include their true history and struggles – but America can always get better at shedding them in their true light. It will hopefully be a thing of the past someday to see blacks and whites as not synonymous with each other, although we are much closer now than we were when cinema first began. Black actors, actresses, directors, writers, and producers do all thrive in today’s society, much as their white counterparts do, earning many types of awards and honors while securing spots in the hearts of millions of American movie-goers.

2011       The Help
2010       For Colored Girls
2009       The Blind Side
2009       Precious
2007       Life in a... Metro
2006       The Game
2006       Dreamgirls
2005       Everybody Hates Chris
2004       Collateral
2004       Barbershop 2: Back in Business
2004       Johnson Family Vacation
2004       Man on Fire
2004       White Chicks 
2004       Ray
2003       Bad Boys II
2003       The Fighting Temptations
2003       Biker Boyz
2003       Gothika
2003       Head of State
2003       That's So Raven
2003       Best of the Steve Harvey Show - Volume 1
2002       All About the Benjamins
2002       City of God
2002       The Wire
2002       Antwone Fisher
2002       Brown Sugar
2002       Barbershop
2002       Blade II
2002       Undercover Brother
2002       Drumline
2002       Friday After Next
2002       I Spy
2002       The Adventures of Pluto Nash
2002       Def Poetry
2001       The Brothers
2001       Training Day
2001       Two Can Play That Game
2001       Ali
2001       Black Knight
2001       Double Take
2001       Down to Earth
2001       How High
2001       Kingdom Come
2001       Pootie Tang
2001       Scary Movie 2
2001       Soul Food
2001       My Wife and Kids
2001       BET Journeys in Black: Jamie Foxx
2001       BET Journeys in Black: Master P
2001       BET Journeys in Black: Johnnie Cochran
2001       BET Journeys in Black: Al Sharpton
2001       BET Journeys in Black: Russell Simmons
2001       BET Journeys in Black: CeCe Winans
2001       BET Journeys in Black: Luther Vandross
2001       BET Journeys in Black: Patti LaBelle
2001       BET Journeys in Black: Kirk Franklin
2001       BET Journeys in Black: Minister Louis Farrakahn
2000       Remember the Titans
2000       The Corner
2000       3 Strikes
2000       Girlfriends
2000       Bait
2000       Love & Basketball
2000       Next Friday
2000       Nutty Professor II: The Klumps
2000       The Hurricane
2000       The Original Kings of Comedy
2000       Soul Food: The Series
2000       Bamboozled
1999       A Lesson Before Dying
1999       In Too Deep
1999       Introducing Dorothy Dandridge
1999       The Best Man
1999       The Wood
1999       4 Little Girls
1999       Any Given Sunday
1999       Chris Rock - Bigger and Blacker
1999       Light it Up
1998       The Temptations
1998       Enemy of the State
1998       Blade
1998       How Stella Got Her Groove Back
1998       Beloved
1998       I Got the Hook Up
1998       Belly
1998       Dr. Dolittle
1998       The Players Club
1998       Senseless
1998       Woo
1997       Soul Food           
1997       Miss Evers' Boys
1997       Love Jones
1997       Sprung
1997       Eve's Bayou
1997       Buffalo Soldiers
1997       Amistad
1997       Booty Call
1997       Hoodlum
1997       The Sixth Man
1996       When We Were Kings
1996       The Nutty Professor
1996       Set it Off             
1996       A Time to Kill
1996       A Family Thing
1996       Ghosts of Mississippi
1996       A Thin Line Between Love and Hate
1996       Sunset Park
1996       The Great White Hype
1996       Malcolm & Eddie
1996       Chris Rock - Bring the Pain
1995       Waiting to Exhale
1995       Bad Boys
1995       The Tuskegee Airmen
1995       Once Upon a Time...When We Were Colored
1995       Devil in a Blue Dress
1995       Dead Presidents
1995       Higher Learning
1995       Friday
1995       Major Payne
1995       Vampire in Brooklyn
1995       The Wayans Brothers
1994       Hoop Dreams
1994       Fresh
1994       Blankman
1994       Above the Rim
1994       A Low Down Dirty Shame
1994       Sugar Hill
1993       What's Love Got to Do With It?
1993       Alex Haley's Queen
1993       CB4
1993       Menace to Society
1993       Poetic Justice
1993       Posse
1993       The Meteor Man
1993       Living Single
1993       Sister, Sister
1992       Class Act
1992       Sister Act
1992       Boomerang
1992       Malcom X
1992       Juice
1992       Passenger 57
1992       Hangin' With Mr. Cooper
1991       Jungle Fever
1991       New Jack City
1991       The Josephine Baker Story
1991       The Five Heartbeats
1991       Daughter's of the Dust
1991       Boyz N the Hood
1991       Strictly Business
1991       Roc
1991       House Party 2
1990       House Party
1990       Ghost Dad
1990       In Living Color
1990       The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
1989       Women of Brewster Place
1989       Family Matters
1989       Lean on Me
1989       Glory
1989       Driving Miss Daisy
1989       Do the Right Thing
1989       Family
1988       School Daze
1988       Coming to America
1988       Bird
1988       I'm Gonna Git You Sucka
1987       Lethal Weapon
1987       Hollywood Shuffle
1987       Eyes on the Prize
1987       Frank's Place
1986       She's Gotta Have It
1986       Amen
1985       The Color Purple
1985       227
1984       A Soldier's Story
1984       Berverly Hills Cop
1984       The Cosby Show
1983       Trading Places
1982       48 Hrs.
1981       Gimme a Break
1981       Death of a Prophet
1979       Roots: The Next Generations
1979       Backstairs at the White House
1978       Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
1978       The Wiz
1978       Diff'rent Strokes
1978       A Hero Ain't Nothin' But a Sandwich
1977       Bare Knuckles
1977       Roots
1977       Killer of Sheep
1977       A Piece of the Action
1977       The Greatest
1977       The Richard Pryor Show
1976       Car Wash
1976       What's Happening
1976       Norman...Is That You?
1976       Man Friday
1976       Mean Johnny Barrows
1976       Hot Potato
1976       Drum
1976       Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde
1976       J.D.'s Revenge
1976       Sparkle
1976       Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings
1975       Let's Do It Again
1975       Mahogany
1975       Cornbread, Earl and Me
1975       Cooley High
1975       Aaron Loves Angela
1975       Adios Amigo
1975       Friday Foster
1975       Three the Hard Way
1975       The Jeffersons
1975       Take a Hard Ride
1975       Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold
1974       Abby
1974       Black Belt Jones
1974       Claudine
1974       The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman
1974       Amazing Grace
1974       Foxy Brown
1974       Three Tough Guys
1974       Tint Jackson
1974       Uptown Saturday Night
1974       Truck Turner
1974-1979   Good Times
1974       That's My Mama
1973       That  Man Bolt
1973       Hell Up From Harlem
1973       The Mack
1973       Live and Let Die
1973       The Arena
1973       Cleopatra Jones
1973       Black Caesar
1973       Coffy
1973       Five on the Black Hand Side
1973       I Escaped From Devil's Island
1973       Hit!
1973       Mandingo
1973       The Slams
1973       Shaft in Africca
1973       Scream, Blacula, Scream
1973       Slaughter's Big Rip Off
1973       The Soul of Nigger Charley
1973       The Spook Who Sat by the Door
1973       Superfly T.N.T.
1973       Wattstax             
1972       Trouble Man
1972       Shaft's Big Score
1972       Melinda
1972       Black Gunn
1972       Black Mama, White Mama
1972       Blacula
1972       Buck and the Preacher
1972       Across 110th Street
1972       Cool Breeze
1972       Legend of Nigger Charley
1972       Come Back, Charleston Blue
1972       Hit Man
1972       Slaughter
1972       Superfly
1972       Lady Sings the Blues
1972       Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids
1972       Sanford and Son
1971       Brian's Song
1971       Big Doll House
1971       Shaft

1968-1971  Julia    
1971       Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song!
1970       The Liberation of L.B. Jones
1970       The Great White Hope
1970       Cotton Comes to Harlem
1970       ...tick...tick...tick...
1970       Watermelon Man
1970       The Flip Wilson Show
1969       The Learning Tree
1969       The Bill Cosby Show
1968       For Love of Ivy
1968       If He Hollers, Let Him Go
1967       In the Heat of the Night
1967       Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
1967       To Sir, With Love
1965       The Greatest Story Ever Told
1965       The Bedford Incident
1965       A Patch of Blue
1965       The Slender Thread
1964       Nothing But a Man
1963       Purlie Victorious
1963       Lilies of the Field
1962       To Kill a Mockingbird
1961       A Raisin in the Sun
1960       Sergeant Rutledge
1959       Odds Against Tomorrow
1958       The Defiant Ones
1957       Island in the Sun
1954       Carmen Jones
1951       The Amos 'n Andy Show
1951       Native Son
1950       No Way Out
1949       The Jackie Robinson Story
1949       Pinky
1949       Intruder in the Dust
1947       Hi-De-Ho
1943       Stormy Weather
1943       Cabin in the Sky
1941       The Blood of Jesus
1940       Am I Guilty?
1939       Gone With the Wind
1938       The Duke is Tops
1936       The Green Pastures
1934       Imitation of Life
1933       The Emperor Jones
1931       The Exile
1929       Hallelujah!
1929       Hearts in Dixie
1927       In Old Kentucky
1925       Body and Soul
1920       Within Our Gates
1916       The Realization of a Negro’s Ambition
1916       A Natural Born Gambler
1916       Fish
1915       The Birth of a Nation

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