The Birth of a Movement

In 1915, Boston-based African American newspaper editor and activist William M. Trotter waged a battle against D.W. Griffith’s technically groundbreaking but notoriously Ku Klux Klan-friendly The Birth of a Nation, unleashing a fight that still rages today about race relations, media representation, and the power and influence of Hollywood. Birth of a Movement, based on Dick Lehr's book The Birth of a Movement: How Birth of a Nation Ignited the Battle for Civil Rights, captures the backdrop to this prescient clash between human rights, freedom of speech, and a changing media landscape.

Birth of a Movement features interviews with Spike Lee, Reginald Hudlin, DJ Spooky, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Dick Lehr, while exploring how Griffith’s film—long taught in film classes as an innovative work of genius—motivated generations of African American filmmakers and artists as they worked to reclaim their history and their onscreen image.