April 1, 2015
DALLAS (SMU) — A hundred years ago D.W. Griffith’s epic silent film “The Birth of a Nation” stirred up both immense racial hostility and cinematic acclaim. The movie’s denigration of black people and glorification of whites after the Civil War will again be in focus during a free public screening and lecture co-sponsored by SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, April 2, at the Dallas Holocaust Museum.
Griffith’s 1915 movie, based on the 1905 novel The Clansman, ran nearly three hours in length. The “Dallas Faces Race” series event will feature selected clips from the film — used by the Ku Klux Klan as a recruiting tool — and connect the movie with race-related crimes in Dallas during that era.
“The movie was wildly successful because it struck a nerve with a generation of people who had lived through the Civil War just 50 years earlier,” says Embrey Human Rights Program Director Rick Halperin. “Its subject matter is highly relevant even now. Just look at the news headlines. People who think we’re living in a post-racial society are deluding themselves.”
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