Emory Report

March 20, 2000

 Volume 52, No. 25

"Selling Race" exhibit opens in Woodruff Library

By Deb Hammacher

A new exhibit opening March 22 in Woodruff Library's Schatten Gallery illustrates how commercial art was used to promote movies to African Americans from the 1920s to 1970s and also looks at documents from Atlanta's official film censor, "Mrs. Richardson," in a new light.

"Selling Race: Cinematic Poster Art From Race Films to Blaxploitation" contains items from Emory's African American Cinema Collection, an archive of film ephemera that complements the research of professors Dana White and Matthew Bernstein into "Segregated Cinema: Atlanta From the Cotton States Exhibition to the Olympic Games."

The exhibit's posters, lobby cards and press books illustrate the range of offerings for black audiences, from the positive images of "race films" in the 1920s and '30s, to tentative sketches in race relations displayed in the motion pictures of the 1930s and '40s, to integration and "blaxploitation" films of the 1950s, '60s and '70s.

No similar collection exists in the Southeast, and it reveals the delicate business of selling race-related movies to white and black audiences.

Other topics in the exhibit include the little-known African American filmmaking community in Hollywood that existed 75 years before Spike Lee and Denzel Washington; records of Atlanta's official film censors between 1915­64; the influence of the South's civil rights movement on Hollywood films; the black athlete as movie star; and black stars of the 1950s.

Bernstein and White were assisted in researching and writing the exhibition materials by graduate students Randy Gue and Gordon Jones, along with undergraduate and graduate students in White's course on segregated cinema. Bernstein and White currently are working on a book sharing the results of their segregated cinema research that should be published next year.

The exhibit runs through May 30 and is free and open to the public.

For more information, call 404-727-6861.

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