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Directed by Oscar Micheaux

United States 1939 74 mins.

In one of the legendary black filmmaker Oscar Micheaux’s final films, young black Harvard graduate Peter (Carman Newsome) seeks to establish a rural school, much to the chagrin of both his black and white neighbors. Micheaux spares little in his blunt portrayal of Southern racism, putting the idealistic Peter through the ringer of villainy and roadblock-upon-roadblock. Despite the hardships, Peter develops a sweet relationship with “the black Jean Harlow,” S.O. Moses, a well-known Harlem stage performer. In contrast with those who migrated north, Micheaux was a strong proponent of black rural life and fighting the racism of the South. The transparently autobiographical Birthright is one of dozens of “race films” Micheaux authored for the benefit of black audiences in the Jim Crow era.

Genres: Drama

Appears in: Special Screenings