The NAACP and The Birth of a Nation

Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 8.56.46 AMThere’s an old adage in Hollywood that claims there is no such thing as bad press. Case in point: according to historian Melvyn Stokes, evidence suggests that the protest campaign launched by the National Association of Colored People against D. W. Griffith’s controversial film The Birth of a Nation did more to stimulate interest in the picture than it did to dissuade audiences from attending. The NAACP worked vehemently against this film beginning at its debut in 1915 at the Clune auditorium in Los Angeles. They protested screenings (pictured left in 1947) and demanded that the more racist depictions of African American be cut from the film.

In the end they were largely unsuccessful. Even white liberals who supported civil rights balked at the notion of censorship…and so the film went on screening across the land. The silver lining? The protests also garnered a great deal of attention for the NAACP, and as a result, their ranks swelled during the first half of the twentieth century. So not all was lost. Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 8.57.35 AM

With compliments,

Keith

The Americanist Independent Volume One, Issue Four

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 1.43.30 PMI am pleased to announce the publication of The Americanist Independent Volume One, Issue four (October, 2014). This month there is something of a gender and US history theme going on:

Creating Veteran Identity for Women within the Veterans Administration
By
Amy Rebecca Jacobs

Selling Mr. Consumer: Forming Male Consumer Identity
By
Nick Lacasse

The Tide of Domesticity: A Study of Gender, Environment, and Florida’s Indian River Culture -1870 and 1890
By
Dara R Vance

Every Piece of This War is Man’s Bullshit: The Women of Cold Mountain, a Film Review Essay by M. Keith Harris

This is some truly exceptional work by outstanding scholars – I invite you all to subscribe to the website. It’s less that $5 per month, which is a steal. In addition to the monthly journal, there are many other components to the site including community forums and a student portal jammed packed with useful information. And coming in a week or so…The site will feature a Creative Culture segment featuring art, fiction, and poetry, available only to subscribers. So stay tuned – this feature will cause quite a stir I am certain.

 

subscribe_buttonHere are a few more images from this month’s journal…

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With compliments,

Keith

Portrait of a Badlands Dandy

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 8.06.56 PMI have just recently set aside a little time to have a look at Ken Burns’s latest effort: The Roosevelts: An Intimate History. Visually, it’s exactly what I expected – period film clips conjoined with vintage photographs presented in Burnsian fashion (pan right…pan left…cue Ashokon Farewell, et cetera). Though I find it hard to imagine that Burns will ever duplicate his epic 1990 nine-part documentary masterpiece, The Civil War in either innovation or public acclamation, The Roosevelts is nevertheless worthy of recognition. I particularly appreciated the film’s take on the remarkable transformation of a young Theodore Roosevelt from ninety-eight pound asthmatic to robust outdoorsy American icon – the blue-blooded sheltered wimp to Bull Moose narrative. The juxtaposition of New York patrician and rugged Dakota Badlandian is especially absorbing…right down to the custom tailored hinterland garb and Tiffany silver-plated Bowie knife. I suppose in one sense, you can take the boy out of the posh but not the posh out of the boy. But what’s most intriguing is that frontier fopism notwithstanding, TR had the goods to tough it out with the best of them…earning the respect of the Badlands rough and tumble. And Burns does a lovely job telling that story. Bully!

With compliments,

Keith

What You’ve Been Missing…

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Bonus points and a shout out if you can tell me about this image.

Greetings all!

I am currently putting the final touches on the October 2014 issue of The Americanist Independent. For those of you who have yet to subscribe, you have been missing quite a bit. My idea behind the journal and website is to join the very best aspects of historical publishing with the ease and connectivity of blogging and social media. So far the project has been a tremendous success – so why not be a part of it?

So in addition to the community forum, the video component, and the much celebrated Student Portal, here’s what you’ve been missing – below is a comprehensive table of contents for the first four issues. Looks pretty damn good, right? And all for $4.97 a month, which is less than a burger and fries (and way better for you).

And just to prove that I am a generous fellow, click HERE and you can have a week’s full access gratis! Enjoy with my compliments.

 

Volume One, Issue One

Explorations in Visualizing the Irish of the American Civil War
By
Damian Shiels

The American Slave: A Database
An Examination of the Methodology and Results of
Digitizing the Slave Narrative Collection
By
Keith D. McCall

Those Gals Had it Easy:
The Conspicuously Untroubled Lives of Boydton Virginia’s Reconstruction Belles
By
Samantha L. Upton

RockinThruHistory: Learning History One Song at a Time
By
Damien Drago

Volume One, Issue Two

Chasing after the Daughter of the Lost Cause
By
Heath Hardage Lee

The North Carolina Confederate Pensions, Past and Present
By
Aaron M. Cusick

The Civil War Institute Annual Conference at Gettysburg College: CWI2014 Reviewed
By
Evan Clapsaddle, Albert Mackey, Ray Ortensie, and Marilyn E. Jess

Harristorian Archives: The Pennsylvania Report on the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg

Volume One, Issue Three

A Checkbook is an Autobiography: the Case of Henry Clay Folger (1857–1930)
By
Stephen H. Grant

The Letters and Writings of Bill Evans, World War II Navy Aviator
By
Mike Rogers

Recreating the “Good War:” Pride and Pitfalls in WWII Reenacting
By
Jared Frederick

Controlling Atoms: Evaluating the AEC During the Eisenhower Years, 1952 – 1958
By
Nick Lacasse

Volume One, Issue Four

Creating Veteran Identity for Women within the Veterans Administration
By
Amy Rebecca Jacobs

Selling Mr. Consumer: Forming Male Consumer Identity
By
Nick Lacasse

The Tide of Domesticity: A Study of Gender, Environment, and Florida’s Indian River Culture -1870 and 1890
By
Dara R Vance

Every Piece of This War is Man’s Bullshit: The Women of Cold Mountain, a Film Review Essay by M. Keith Harris

 

Have a historical day, and by all means…please spread the word. I’ll be your best friend.

Keith

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 4.01.57 PMHere’s a fun little tidbit for the day. Did you know that film maker D. W. Griffith once offered $10,000 to anyone who could demonstrate that any part of his film The Birth of a Nation was untrue? Well…he did. He was quite incensed by protests from the NAACP and others claiming that his work misrepresented black people. From Griffith’s perspective, his film was authentic history down to the detail, and thus he challenged anyone to prove historical inaccuracies. As far as I know…no one took him up on the offer. If his estate still exists, I wonder if the challenge stands…

With compliments,

Keith