Black Film Classics | Within Our Gates

2 02 2010

The original 1920’s film poster

As we launch Black America history month, we introduce a new series saluting classic Black film as we celebrate the centenniel of African-American images produced by us. With assistance from our friends at, today’s feature is one of the earliest works by the Father of Black Film, Oscar Micheaux and his classic  1920 film, Within Our Gates.”

Released five years after D.W. Griffith’s “Birth Of A Nation”, Within Our Gates is a silent film that dramatically depicts the racial situation in America during the violent years of Jim Crow, the Ku Klux Klan, the Great Migration, and the emergence of the “New Negro”.

We’re showing this rare film in 8 parts to start our 100 years of Black Cinema focus for February.

The story focuses on an African-American woman who goes North in an effort to help a minister in the Deep South raise money to keep a school open for poor Black children. Her romance with a black doctor eventually leads to revelations about her family’s past that expose the racial skeletons in America’s closet, most famously through the film’s depiction of the injustice of lynching. Produced, written and directed by novelist Oscar Micheaux, it is the oldest known surviving film made by an African-American director.

Lost for decades, a single print of the film, entitled La Negra (The Negress), was discovered in Spain in the 1970s. In 1993, the Library of Congress restored the film as close to the original as possible.




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