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This is a historian’s dream, more than four hours of never-before-seen film...
September 16, 2006 7:53 AM   Subscribe

Currie Ballard, a historian in Oklahoma, has just made what he calls “the find of a lifetime”—33 cans of motion picture film dating from the 1920s that reveal the daily lives of some remarkably successful black communities.
A Find of a Lifetime
Twelve different short excerpts of the film are linked
posted by y2karl (20 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Lovely post, bravo! Now what I want to know is why do all the people in "Car Ferry" suddenly start running around like mad at the end of the clip? I'm imagining the ferry started sinking, the kitchen caught on fire... Man, something was going on!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:21 AM on September 16, 2006


Wow, amazing. The fact that the films were found would be worthy of a post, but the ability to watch the snippets is fantastic. For some reason I particularly liked "House," but "Hamburger Stand" has an odd dada appeal: a woman walks from left to right, then right to left, then enters the building... and cut!
posted by languagehat at 8:21 AM on September 16, 2006


Amazing. Thanks y2karl.
posted by shoepal at 8:43 AM on September 16, 2006


I find myself kind of torn between the footage and the reporting. Successful? No, they were communities which thrived within a system of prejudice and/or a great amount hostility.

"Remarkably successful black communities" - god forbid one of the most discriminated groups of people in North America aside from the native indians would form "successful enclaves".
posted by Funmonkey1 at 8:54 AM on September 16, 2006


Great post. But where exactly did he find the films? Googling around I didn't find the answer, but I did find an article about how the historian who found thse films also recently discovered that he is descended from the former slaves who wrote "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot."
posted by LarryC at 8:55 AM on September 16, 2006


Neat
posted by caddis at 9:10 AM on September 16, 2006


What a treat! I wonder if any if the children in the films are still alive? Thanks, y2karl!
posted by taosbat at 9:31 AM on September 16, 2006


god forbid one of the most discriminated groups of people in North America aside from the native indians would form "successful enclaves"

Are you saying we shouldn't talk about their successes in a time when they had to work extremely hard to have them? Sounds to me that your statement is more racist than the one you are complaining about.
posted by Kickstart70 at 9:37 AM on September 16, 2006


Funmonkey: Next time, just point out that no one is throwing rocks at these people or hanging them, okay? It would make your point more succinctly. Plus what Kickstart said.

I think these films are fantastic. There is a local historian here in Michigan (his name is Esmo Woods) who documented the lives of black Americans in one neighborhood of my birthplace, and even though these are different locations, this has really brought his work (and those people) to life for me.

Excellent post.
posted by disclaimer at 9:51 AM on September 16, 2006


posted by Kickstart70: god forbid one of the most discriminated groups of people in North America aside from the native indians would form "successful enclaves".

I don't understand where the "god forbid" comes from. Seems to me the authors weren't being condescending but were in fact celebrating the strength of character and spirit of these people, people who did indeed do "remarkably well" in a society that all too often created severe obstacles to their success.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:52 AM on September 16, 2006


Kickstart70, I'm so sorry! Goddam it, it wasn't you who posted that, it was Funmonkey, and I knew it, it was just a stupid copy-and-paste error. I'm really sorry. Administration, if you've got the time, could you fix my error? Apologies all around.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:57 AM on September 16, 2006


wow.
great stuff, thanks!
thank the gods the celluloid survived.
posted by Busithoth at 10:01 AM on September 16, 2006


hey disclaimer - these films are fantastic. What I disagree with is the "oh my god, they were successful" reporting style. The article (not the films) came across as taking away a piece of intelligence of the film subjects. Maybe it's personal interpretation, but I will stand by my remarks.

As for the notion my originial comment could be construed as rascist ala kickstart70 - we should celebrate success in any community that thrives in spite of hatred, systematic oppression or brutal regimes such as the one which make this film's subjects from long ago seem "successful" even though they lack equality and rights.
posted by Funmonkey1 at 10:33 AM on September 16, 2006


flapjax, I do apologise. The "god forbid" was merely an epxression. That's it.
posted by Funmonkey1 at 10:37 AM on September 16, 2006


Thanks for the clarifications, Funmonkey.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:07 AM on September 16, 2006


This is awesome. Thanks, y2karl!
posted by brundlefly at 12:41 PM on September 16, 2006


excellent tidbit
posted by whimsicalnymph at 9:19 PM on September 16, 2006


Great stuff, y2karl - thank you.
posted by madamjujujive at 12:00 PM on September 17, 2006


These people are all in heaven now.
posted by Faze at 3:52 PM on September 17, 2006


Fascinating films. I hope we'll learn more about the people in them and why the films were commissioned, where they were screened, etc. The style of "House" made me think of Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous!
posted by PY at 11:59 PM on September 17, 2006


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