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SOURCE NOTES This regular feature ofFilm & Histoiy seeks to pass along suggestionsfor sources offilm and ideas or using it effectively. This issue highlights the reviews ofa new reference tool. Multimedia Materials for Afro-American Studies: A Curriculum Orientation and Annotated Bibliography of Resources. Ed. by Harry Alleyn Johnson. (New York: R. R. Bowker Co., 1971). xii + 353 pp. Appendices, index. $19.95. This book, as the editor's preface states, reflects the interest in racial issues spreading from colleges to secondary and elementary schools and seeks to acquaint teachers with materials for teaching "black studies and current social issues." It contains three major parts. Park I includes four papers by black scholars. Part II is an annotated bibliography of films, records, video tapes and other media about Afro-Americans' culture, heritage and contributions to the development ofthe United States. Part III is a similar bibliography for African peoples and their "Contributions to Mankind." The essays in part I contain little helpful to historians using film either as researchers or as college teachers. Responding to the editors' concern for providing "minority children and youth" with education's enhancing self-respect and ethnic pride, two papers focus directly on the problems ofghetto youth, while a third, outlining Black Studies curricula, devotes only a minority of its space to college programs. The fourth essay by historian Charles Wesley briefly sketches Black history and its teaching. Only one paper discusses media as a teaching resource; none concentrate specifically on films as instructional or research materials. While the bibliographies in parts II and III cover many media, the sections tabulating films attract our most immediate interest. The films are listed alphabetically under two categories: 1 6mm and 8mm. The annotation for each film gives running time, rental costs, distributor, the appropriate audience level, which is too frequently pre-college, and a briefdescription ofthe content. Stressing films for the classroom, these lists provide incomplete coverage ofcommercial, popular entertainment movies. Left out are not only some Hollywood films, such as Pinky, but more importantly the black made pictures ofthe silent and early talkie eras as well as the current cycle ofblack flies. Cotton Comes to Harlem but it has not yet reached the bibliographers domain. In fact, there is no systematic effort made to distinguished between whites' films about blacks and films made by blacks. Moreover, since the names ofdirectors, scriptwriters and casts are rarely mentioned, the reader is hard pressed to extract a bibliography ofany particular individuals work on racial themes. A better organization might have segregated educational films for the classroom from commercial and documentary films as primary sources with appropriate annotations for each type. Aiming at teachers, especially in elementary and secondary schools, this volume's value for the historian as college teacher is limited and for the historian as researcher minimal. Michael Goldman Rutgers University LETTERS To the Editors: It is not my understanding that, as Professor Melvin Small has it, D. W. Griffith made Intolerance in order to atone for his racial views in The Birth of a Nation. Quite the contrary. Griffith resented the criticism ofhis idea ofblack behavior during Reconstruction, which he regarded as an attempt at censorship. His pamphlet The Rise and Fall of Free Speech in America and the film Intolerance, both issued in 1916, reacted against the reception ofThe Birth of a Nation in certain quarters, but his reaction was in no way one ofatonement. This idea ofGriffith's atonement may well be, as Andrew Sarris put it, an "academic solution" to outrageous racism in a great work ofart. Joseph Herzenberg, Assistant Professor ofHistory, Tougaloo College, Mississippi. Small's Response: Professor Herzenberg may very well be correct in his assessment of Griffith's response to criticism ofThe Birth ofa Nation. But the point I was trying to make, I think, still is valid. Griffith, who claimed to love his "negro" brothers, was quite surprised when his film was attacked for its apparent racism. A he said, all he was trying to do was to portray the history of Reconstruction as faithfully as possible. Thus, I included the brief reference to Griffith in my article to underscore the fact that directors and film writers can never be certain...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9922
Print ISSN
0360-3695
Pages
pp. 23-25
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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