Professor Great: Black Movie Makers Have Pushed Boundaries Since Beginning of Film

Thursday, September 24, 2020

WISCONSIN PUBLIC RADIO -- From the earliest years of motion pictures, Black directors were finding innovative ways to tell their stories. A film historian joins us to talk about some of their contributions, the ways Hollywood excluded Black talent, and how the industry could provide more opportunities today.

Artel Great is the George and Judy Marcus Endowed Chair in African American Cinema Studies at San Francisco State University.

“Before there’s anything called Hollywood, you have a certain group of upwardly mobile Black entrepreneurs and religious leaders who start promoting movies as this avenue to empower their communities,” Great said. “They see movies as this powerful opportunity to create a modern image of what Black culture really is: an image of urbanity, of sophistication, of upward mobility — in order to right the wrongs of racial caricatures and distortions that exist.”