In 1983, a collection of films originally created for African American audiences during segregation were recovered from a warehouse in Tyler Texas and brought to Southern Methodist University’s G. William Jones Film & Video Collection of the Hamon Arts Library. Now, after restoration and digitalization, the library is offering those films to the public. From the release:
Beginning with films produced and directed by African Americans for the segregated audiences of the 1930s and ‘40s, to white Hollywood’s depiction of black life in 1943, to the blacksploitation films of the 1960s and ‘70s, SMU library collections provide a unique look at black film history.
So far only one of the recovered films is up in its entirety, The Blood of Jesus. But the library plans to continue to add to the online collection. Here’s the full release:
BLACK FILMS SHOWCASE LIFE, SEGREGATION
The history of black film parallels the history of segregation in the United States, says Rick Worland, SMU film professor.
Beginning with films produced and directed by African Americans for the segregated audiences of the 1930s and ‘40s, to white Hollywood’s depiction of black life in 1943, to the blacksploitation films of the 1960s and ‘70s, SMU library collections provide a unique look at black film history. Items from many of these collections are digitized and may be viewed online.
Rediscovered Race Movies showcase mid-century black life
The Tyler, Texas, Black Film Collection includes 15 rare films produced between 1935 and 1956 outside of Hollywood by black producers for audiences in segregated theaters. Recovered from a Tyler, Texas warehouse in 1983, the films have been preserved and digitized and may now be purchased as a boxed set (http://smu.edu/blackfilms/). “The Blood of Jesus,” digitized from a unique 35mm print is available online as a streaming video file at http://digitalcollections.smu.edu/all/cul/ttb/.
Vincente Minnelli’s set drawings illustrate Hollywood look at black life A student archiving theater artifacts in 2006 at SMU’s Hamon Arts Library found original sketches of Vincente Minnelli’s first film, “Cabin in the Sky,” one of the first Hollywood-produced films with an entirely black cast. The movie featured Louis Armstrong and Lena Horne and premiered in Dallas in 1943 to segregated audiences.
From “A Raisin in the Sun” to “All That Jazz” The African American Film Materials digital collection includes promotional materials from films featuring African American actors produced during the 1950s through ‘80s. The collection from SMU’s DeGolyer Library includes more than 400 film stills, press books and posters featuring actors such as Sidney Portier in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” Ben Vereen in “All That Jazz,” Billy Dee Williams in “Brian’s Song,” Richard Pryor in “Stir Crazy,” and Muhammed Ali in “The Greatest.”
Image: From Vincente Minnelli’s original sketches for the film Cabin in the Sky.