As I continue my work on the making of the film, The Birth of a Nation, it is nice to run across the words of the director himself, D.W. Griffith, providing a greatly embellished (in terms of numbers involved) version of the story to the New York Sun. I am particularly interested in Griffith’s testimony concerning the film’s black extras. “The negro is a natural actor,” he claimed, “and the men and women of that race fully competent.”
Well…wasn’t that mighty nice of him to say? Shucks. Here’s the full article, published April 25, 1915 – just a few months after the film premiered (under the title: The Clansman) in Los Angeles at Clune’s Auditorium. Have a look…you should find the black actors’ living arrangements while on set “peculiar” to say the least. And I would like to thank Cynthia Lynn Lyerly for tipping me off to this one. I’ll remind anyone who will listen – Twitter and other social media platforms are simply fantastic venues for the sharing of information and ideas – and much easier to access than academic conferences.