oscarmicheaux

This profile was originally created for Plotpoints Podcasts 2020.06.19 (Here)

Born in 1884, Oscar Micheaux’s success as author, filmmaker, playright, and activist was unprecedented.

African Americans were just a few decades removed from slavery; the 15th Amendment which guaranteed the right of Blacks to vote was passed just 14 years before. Lynchings and race-driven murders were still all too common in many parts of America.

Micheaux’s father, himself a former slave, sired 13 children on a farm in Illinois. A middle child, Micheaux rebelled against everything and become somewhat of a problem. Eventually moving to Chicago to live with his brother, he tried many jobs that were never very satisfying but led to him saving some money and making some solid connections in the white community that helped his future plans.

After bouncing around, Micheaux eventually became a homesteader in South Dakota. While there, some articles he had written made their way to The Chicago Defender to be published. His experiences as a sharecropper and homesteader informed much of his early literary work and led to a long career as a writer in many genres but focusing on the social issues of the times.

In 1913 Micheaux’s first book The Conquest: The Story of a Negro Pioneer was published.

A connection to the Lincoln Motion Picture Company upon the publishing of his second novel seemed promising but ultimately fruitless. Micheaux wanted control over the film adaptation of his novel and the owner of the production company flatly refused.

Micheaux promptly founded his own company, The Micheaux Film & Book Company of Sioux City (in Chicago) and wrote, directed, and produced the film The Homesteader based on his book about his experiences in South Dakota.

Forty more films followed. The movies were raw, in your face features that pulled no punches about race relations and societal issues of the times.

Quote: "It is only by presenting those portions of the race portrayed in my pictures, in the light and background of their true state, that we can raise our people to greater heights.” End Quote

Besides being the first African America to produce a film in 1919, in 1924 Micheaux introduced the moviegoing world to the astounding Paul Robeson in his film, Body and Soul. He attacked the racism in D.W. Grifiths’ film Birth of a Nation in his own film Within Our Gates.

Micheaux never shrunk from a fight and many of his movies, books, and just his attitude in general created enemies not happy with this man of modest means taking the white community to task in the cinema and newspapers.

From Wikipedia:

“Micheaux's films were made during a time of great change in the African-American community. His films featured contemporary black life. He dealt with racial relationships between blacks and whites, and the challenges for blacks when trying to achieve success in the larger society. His films were used to oppose and discuss the racial injustice that African Americans received. Topics such as lynching, job discrimination, rape, mob violence, and economic exploitation were depicted in his films. These films also reflect his ideologies and autobiographical experiences.”

The Producers Guild said he was: “The most prolific black – if not most prolific independent filmmaker in American cinema.”

Micheaux wrote, produced and directed forty-four feature-length films between 1919 and 1948 and wrote seven novels, one a national bestseller.

Oscar Micheaux, born to ex-slaves, defied all odds to become a successful film producer, scriptwriter, playright, author, and entrepreneur.

He died in 1951. He is buried in Charlotte NC.

His gravestone reads: A Man Ahead of His Time.

Many of his films are available on streaming services like Amazon Prime.

oscarmicheaux

This profile was originally created for Plotpoints Podcasts 2020.06.19 (Here)

Born in 1884, Oscar Micheaux’s success as author, filmmaker, playright, and activist was unprecedented.

African Americans were just a few decades removed from slavery; the 15th Amendment which guaranteed the right of Blacks to vote was passed just 14 years before. Lynchings and race-driven murders were still all too common in many parts of America.

Micheaux’s father, himself a former slave, sired 13 children on a farm in Illinois. A middle child, Micheaux rebelled against everything and become somewhat of a problem. Eventually moving to Chicago to live with his brother, he tried many jobs that were never very satisfying but led to him saving some money and making some solid connections in the white community that helped his future plans.

After bouncing around, Micheaux eventually became a homesteader in South Dakota. While there, some articles he had written made their way to The Chicago Defender to be published. His experiences as a sharecropper and homesteader informed much of his early literary work and led to a long career as a writer in many genres but focusing on the social issues of the times.

In 1913 Micheaux’s first book The Conquest: The Story of a Negro Pioneer was published.

A connection to the Lincoln Motion Picture Company upon the publishing of his second novel seemed promising but ultimately fruitless. Micheaux wanted control over the film adaptation of his novel and the owner of the production company flatly refused.

Micheaux promptly founded his own company, The Micheaux Film & Book Company of Sioux City (in Chicago) and wrote, directed, and produced the film The Homesteader based on his book about his experiences in South Dakota.

Forty more films followed. The movies were raw, in your face features that pulled no punches about race relations and societal issues of the times.

Quote: "It is only by presenting those portions of the race portrayed in my pictures, in the light and background of their true state, that we can raise our people to greater heights.” End Quote

Besides being the first African America to produce a film in 1919, in 1924 Micheaux introduced the moviegoing world to the astounding Paul Robeson in his film, Body and Soul. He attacked the racism in D.W. Grifiths’ film Birth of a Nation in his own film Within Our Gates.

Micheaux never shrunk from a fight and many of his movies, books, and just his attitude in general created enemies not happy with this man of modest means taking the white community to task in the cinema and newspapers.

From Wikipedia:

“Micheaux's films were made during a time of great change in the African-American community. His films featured contemporary black life. He dealt with racial relationships between blacks and whites, and the challenges for blacks when trying to achieve success in the larger society. His films were used to oppose and discuss the racial injustice that African Americans received. Topics such as lynching, job discrimination, rape, mob violence, and economic exploitation were depicted in his films. These films also reflect his ideologies and autobiographical experiences.”

The Producers Guild said he was: “The most prolific black – if not most prolific independent filmmaker in American cinema.”

Micheaux wrote, produced and directed forty-four feature-length films between 1919 and 1948 and wrote seven novels, one a national bestseller.

Oscar Micheaux, born to ex-slaves, defied all odds to become a successful film producer, scriptwriter, playright, author, and entrepreneur.

He died in 1951. He is buried in Charlotte NC.

His gravestone reads: A Man Ahead of His Time.

Many of his films are available on streaming services like Amazon Prime.