Van Dora Williams
Search for other papers by Van Dora Williams in
Current site
Google Scholar
Standing their ground
A southern community’s response to The Birth of a Nation
in D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation
Abstract only
Log-in for full text

This chapter focuses on the community responses to The Birth of a Nation in three major cities in Virginia: Hampton, Norfolk and Richmond. The southern state of Virginia figures prominently in the history of the film because it was the first southern state to premiere the film and for Hampton Institute, a prominent Black educational organisation, the first attempt to ‘fix’ a film that carried national implications as well as the Black community’s unsuccessful bid to ban the film. Researchers and scholars have typically focused on the national response to The Birth of a Nation and consequently there is a dearth of research on the southern response to the film. With the use of cultural artefacts like personal letters, organisational reports and newspaper articles, this chapter reveals how southern Black and white leaders worked, unwittingly, at odds with each other, to address the misrepresentation of Black people and the Civil War in the film and brings to light public responses to the film that are not widely known. The chapter also reveals the strong voice of Black women criticising their own Black and white leaders about their responses. The southern state of Virginia is revealed as an interesting historical lens to the conversations of race, representation and silent film in 1915.

  • Collapse
  • Expand

D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation

Art, culture and ethics in black and white


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 31 31 5
Full Text Views 0 0 0
PDF Downloads 0 0 0