On the evening of March 21, 1915, President Woodrow Wilson attended a special screening at the White House of “The Birth of a Nation”, a film which was directed by D.W. Griffith and based on “THE CLANSMAN”, a novel written by Wilson’s good friend Thomas Dixon.
Read on to find out more about “The Birth of a Nation”:
1. The film presented a distorted portrait of the South after the Civil War, glorifying the Ku Klux Klan and denigrating blacks.
2. It was the story of the relationship between two American families, one Union, the other Confederate, at the time of the Civil War and the Reconstruction that followed.
3. The movie falsified the period of Reconstruction by presenting blacks as dominating Southern whites (almost all of whom are noble in the film) and sexually forcing themselves upon white women.
4. The Klan in the movie was portrayed as some sort of savior to the South.
5. African-American audiences openly wept at the film’s malicious portrayal of blacks, while Northern white audiences cheered.
6. Because of the movie riots broke out in major cities (Boston and Philadelphia, among others), and it was denied release in many other places (Chicago, Ohio, and Denver).
7. As the NAACP fought against the film and tried unsuccessfully to get it banned, the Ku Klux Klan successfully used it to launch a massive recruiting campaign that would bring in millions of members.
8. After seeing the film, an enthusiastic Wilson reportedly remarked: “It is like writing history with lightning, and my only regret is that it is all so terribly true.”
9. It made history by becoming the first film ever to be screened at the White House.
10. The film is regarded as one of the most racist films ever made.