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Grant number: TD-50578-13

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Center for Independent Documentary, Inc. (Boston, MA 02135-1032)
Bestor Cram (Project Director: August 2012 to present)

Birth of a Movement

Development of a 60-minute documentary film on Boston civil rights activist William Monroe Trotter's effort to launch a national boycott of the 1915 film, "Birth of a Nation."

"Birth of a Movement" is a documentary feature that recounts African American activism against D.W. Griffith's 1915 blockbuster movie "Birth of a Nation." The film will focus on William Monroe Trotter, a black newspaper editor in Boston, whose protests and early use of civil disobedience failed to prevent the racist movie from playing in Boston, but nevertheless sparked a nationwide movement that succeeded in banning the movie in other cities and challenging its one-sided interpretation of post-Civil War history. Through this story we examine the importance of "Birth of a Nation" both as cinematic pioneer and as artifact of social history. Furthermore, we explore the different currents in black activism that would become the roots of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s, and also the efficacy of using censorship as a tool of civil rights activism.

Project fields:
Interdisciplinary Studies, General

America's Media Makers: Development Grants

Public Programs

Total amounts:
$40,000 (approved)
$40,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/1/2013 – 12/31/2013