Black History encapsulates more than a month. This new daily series will take a look at some lesser known events and people in the world.
Hattie McDaniel. Sidney Poitier. If it weren’t for certain performances, the black race’s relationship with the Oscars could be vastly different. Director Oscar Micheaux’s work changed segregation in movies even prior to those pioneers.
Micheaux was an Illinois born homesteader (self sufficiency that includes making one’s own clothes and farming) and and writer. His third book is based on his homesteading called The Homesteader, which he would eventually turn into a movie. But it was a difficult road to do so. A company initially approached him to make the movie but that deal went belly up.
Micheaux didn’t let that deter him though. He restructured his publishing business to include filmmaking. The entire operation was retitled Micheaux Film and Book Company. The self-produced movie became the first feature to be created by a person of color. H would go on to create several other “race” based films under the banner such as the Birth of a Nation response Within Our Gates.
Current black filmmakers haven’t had the chance to get as controversial but they do get more chances entirely. Ava DuVernay, for instance, is the first black female director to helm a movie that costs over $100 million. She’s taking on responsibility for Disney’s A Wrinkle In Time. DuVernay thanked Disney for “breaking the glass” with her.
Thanks to Micheaux, a world of filmmaking became possible for an entire race. Hopefully, DuVernay isn’t the last director in her position to get a chance to prove big Hollywood wrong.