Uplift Cinema: The Emergence of African American Film and the Possibility of Black Modernity
In Uplift Cinema, Allyson Nadia Field recovers the significant yet forgotten legacy of African American filmmaking in the 1910s. Like the racial uplift project, this cinema emphasized economic self-sufficiency, education, and respectability as the keys to African American progress. Field discusses films made at the Tuskegee and Hampton Institutes to promote education, as well as the controversial The New Era, which was an antiracist response to D. W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation. She also shows how Black filmmakers in New York and Chicago engaged with uplift through the promotion of Black modernity. Uplift cinema developed not just as a response to onscreen racism, but constituted an original engagement with the new medium that has had a deep and lasting significance for African American cinema. Although none of these films survived, Field's examination of archival film ephemera presents a method for studying lost films that opens up new frontiers for exploring early film culture.
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advancement Advertisement African American Anderson AndersonWatkins April April 21 beforeandafter Birth Black audiences Black film Booker Bowser Broad Ax Broome Broome’s camera campaign Carnegie Hall Chicago Defender church colored comedy context culture Day at Tuskegee entertainment exhibition faculty meeting minutes Failure of Cunningham February figure film’s frame Freeman Frissell fundraising Griffith’s Hampton and Tuskegee Hampton Archives Hampton Graduates Hampton Institute Hampton University Haynes Henry at Hampton images industrial institute’s January January 27 John Henry Johnson Johnston’s Jones Jones’s June March microfilm reel 348 Miner motion pictures Movies Moving Picture World narrative Nation Negro Lives Count Oscar Micheaux Photo Play photographs production progress promotion race film racial representation rhetoric scenes Scott Slavery social songs Southern Workman spectators Stewart story Theater Tremont Theatre Tuskegee Institute Tuskegee’s uplift cinema uplift films uplift project W. E. B. Du Bois Washington Papers William Foster York Age