Oscar Micheaux

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Oscar Micheaux was a prominent film director and writer who contributed a vast amount of information to the struggles of African Americans. Through his novels and films, he conveyed the hardships that African Americans faced, even after land ownership freedoms were granted from the Homestead Act of 1862. The Homestead Act of 1862 allowed Micheaux and other African Americans to migrate west and purchase a portion of land. Micheaux valued this freedom that the Homestead Act had granted African Americans; however, this physical freedom that many people gained did not indicate that the violence and discrimination would end. Micheaux showed the limitations and problems that existed for African Americans through his talent as a film producer and novelist. “Lynching, job discrimination, interracial rape, mob violence, and economic exploitation were thus the main themes he openly tackled in his movies”(Lefevre-Thierry,19). One of his films, The Homesteader, allowed Micheaux to present his ideas about racial injustices in South Dakota. The movie is about a relationship between an African American woman and a Caucasian man that is prohibited because of segregation laws about interracial relationships. Another movie that shows the harsh reality of African Americans is Within Our Gates,which was highly criticized for the reason that is highly uncensored . Within our Gates depicted the hostilities against African Americans including the horrors of lynching and the segregation of black and whites due to the Jim Crow laws. Even though the Homestead Act granted African Americans the ability to own their own land, it did not mean that racism and discrimination disappeared. Oscar Micheaux did a profound job of showing the harsh truth of the time period of the continued inequality.

Click here to watch a clip from Within Our Gates.

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