The first African American feature filmmaker who was the Blueprint for black filmmakers.
Oscar Devereaux Micheaux was born on January 2, 1884, and is regarded as the first African American feature filmmaker. While working as a Pullman porter, Micheaux purchased a relinquished South Dakota farm in 1906. He lost the farm after family entanglements.
During his experience with the farm, he self-published a series of books including The Homesteader in which he sold door to door. In 1917, he was approached by an African American film company for movie rights to his books.
He refused the offer but liked the idea and created his own film version which in turn launched his career as an independent filmmaker. Oscar would go on to become a prominent film director, author, and producer of more than 44 films.
Micheaux is described as the most successful African-American filmmaker of the beginning of the 20th century. Oscar produced both silent and sound films. He created his films through The Lincoln Motion Picture Company.
Although the company didn’t last long, It was the first movie company owned and controlled by black filmmakers.
Oscar’s films premiered in 700 theaters that were part of the “ghetto circuit. Micheaux’s movies were created during a time of great change in the African-American community. They detailed contemporary black life. and dealt with racial relationships between blacks and whites.
The films also dealt with the challenges that blacks faced when trying to achieve success in the larger society. His films were used to discuss the racial injustices that African Americans received.
Micheaux died on March 25, 1951, in Charlotte, North Carolina, of heart failure. He will forever remain a vital part of African American culture in the movie industry for blacks.
Salute to Black History Month in February.