Uplift Cinema: The Emergence of African American Film and the Possibility of Black Modernity
“To Show the Industrial Progress of the Negro Along Industrial Lines”: Uplift Cinema Entrepreneurs at Tuskegee Institute, 1909–1913
2015. "“To Show the Industrial Progress of the Negro Along Industrial Lines”: Uplift Cinema Entrepreneurs at Tuskegee Institute, 1909–1913", Uplift Cinema: The Emergence of African American Film and the Possibility of Black Modernity, Allyson Nadia Field
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This chapter looks at the two films made by northern entrepreneurs at Tuskegee Institute, A Trip to Tuskegee (1909) and A Day at Tuskegee (1913). The first film was produced by the George W. Broome Exhibition Company of Boston, owned by a filmmaking entrepreneur who made actualities for Black audiences in Boston. This chapter shows how Broome’s filming of Tuskegee in 1909 began as a collaboration with the Institute but that his entrepreneurial exhibition projects removed control from the Tuskegee authorities, including Booker T. Washington, and eventually led Tuskegee to distance itself from the filmmaker. As a result, for the second film, Tuskegee collaborated with a different company, the Chicago-based Anderson-Watkins Film Company, who screened their film of Tuskegee for northern philanthropists as well as southern Black audiences. In tracing these two histories, this chapter argues that Tuskegee sought to exert greater control over the filming and circulation of these moving pictures. Despite these efforts, the uplift model repeatedly came into conflict with the ways in which spectators consumed—and wanted to consume—these images.