chapter  3
22 Pages

Fire and Desire: Race, Melodrama, and Oscar Micheaux: Jane Gaines

If D. W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation (1913) was history "written with lightning," Oscar Micheaux' s Within Our Gates (1919) was history written in smoke.' When the African-American independent film producer's second feature was first exhibited in major American cities, Black as well as White communities treated it like a time bomb. The same Black communities which had welcomed Micheaux's first film, The Homesteader (1918), and applauded the success of the Micheaux Book and Film Company, protested against Within Our Gates. In Chicago, the Methodist Episcopal Ministers' Alliance committee, comprised of representatives of both races, took their case against exhibiting the film to the mayor and the chief of police.'