NEW BOOK REVIEWS

NewBookReviews.info features book reviews and news related to a wide range of ebooks and printed books for adults as well as children and young adults in fiction and non-fiction categories. Submissions of book reviews are welcome. We also provide reviews of books for a modest fee. Contact us for more information on our book review service.

New Book Shows African Americans Helped Invent the Movies

Sunday, February 08, 2015

"Envisioning Freedom: Cinema and the Building of Modern Black Life" uncovers the forgotten history of black inventors, filmmakers, and exhibitors.

As centennial commemorations of DW Griffith's Birth of a Nation gear up, a new book by historian Cara Caddoo proves African Americans helped invent the movies a decade before the first Hollywood film. Published by Harvard University Press, Envisioning Freedom: Cinema and the Building of Modern Black Life uncovers the forgotten history of black inventors, filmmakers, and exhibitors.

"A lot of people assume that African Americans just followed in the footsteps of white filmmakers," says Caddoo, an Assistant Professor at Indiana University, Bloomington, "That's really a whitewashing of American film history."

Years before the 1915 debut of Griffith's pro-KKK film, which is widely credited for inaugurating "modern American cinema," African Americans produced their own films and built their own theaters. Caddoo explains that this began in the 1890s--more than a decade before Hollywood, and long before the rise of better-known black filmmakers like Oscar Micheaux.

The first African American films featured themes like the "American Negro and the Negro abroad." In "The Devil's Cook Kitchen," a minister named H. Charles Pope used movies to highlight black contributions to American history, and to explain the "26 sins" involved in dancing.

Some black filmmakers were former slaves, others just a generation removed. Faced with racial discrimination and shoestring budgets, these black film pioneers relied on their wit. Segregation limited African Americans' access to public space so they turned black churches, lodges, and schools into motion picture theaters during off hours.

Envisioning Freedom is packed with colorful characters such as Fleetwood Walker, the first--and last--major league baseball player before Jackie Robinson. Caddoo writes that Walker became an inventor and traveling motion picture exhibitor after his baseball career. One of his most important inventions was an alarm system that enabled film projectionists to switch seamlessly between reels of film.

When Birth of a Nation debuted, African Americans launched the first mass black protest movement of the twentieth century. By that time, motion pictures were deeply integrated into black life. African Americans had produced films and used them to fundraise, build businesses, construct theaters, and socialize in an era of racial segregation. Caddoo explains, "They were fighting to reclaim a form of popular culture that they had helped create. Tens of thousands of African Americans participated--housewives, gangsters, ministers, and schoolchildren, from Hawaii to Massachusetts, and from the Panama Canal to Canada."

Recent News

ISIS IS US: The Shocking Truth Behind the Army of Terror - December 29, 2015

A new book by Wayne Madsen, Webster Tarpley, and anomymous authors known as Syrian Girl Partisan and George Washington Blogger have released a new book on the true origins and backers of the Islamic State (Daesh).

Leaders’ Guide for Effective Change in Lean Manufacturing - August 11, 2015

Unique business consultants, Dr. Patrick Love and Patrick Putorti, launch all-new book to help business leaders find their path to effective change.

Celebrated Authors Set For Hong Kong Book Fair - July 2, 2015

The 26th edition of the HKTDC Hong Kong Book Fair on 15-21 July features a star-studded slate of English language authors.

Ruling Against Apple for E-Book Price Fixing Upheld - June 30, 2015

A court has confirmed that it is illegal for Apple to knowingly participate in a price-fixing conspiracy, but that may not stop them.

“The Tax Detective” Uncovers the Mystery of Small Business Tax Planning - May 7, 2015

Help for taxation issues for small companies.

“Into The Wild” – Exploring What it Means to Truly Live - May 3, 2015

New review of the 1996 book "Into the Wild", still a best-seller.

Best Practices for Marketing an Independent Book - April 4, 2015

Facing an avalanche of competition, independent publishers need to be creative and persistent in marketing their books.

Author Phil Blair: Win Name Game to Advance Career - April 4, 2015

Simple techniques can help a person land and retain a job.

Author Advises Baby Boomers on Retirement Strategy - April 4, 2015

Retirement is not easy for many Americans but utilizing a reverse mortgage can make retirement possible for some.

“Cops in Lab Coats” a Call for Forensic Science Reform - April 4, 2015

Separating forensic scientists from law enforcement and prosecution is an essential step to ensuring that justice prevails.