blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2015  v14n1
an online journal of literature and the arts
Oscar Micheaux

Oscar Micheaux (1884–1951), born in Metropolis, Illinois, was an African American author, film director, and independent producer of more than forty-five films. He self-published his first novel, The Conquest: The Story of a Negro Pioneer in 1913. In 1915, Micheaux established his own publishing company, the Western Book and Supply Company. He rewrote The Conquest in 1917 and published it as The Homesteader, his best-known novel. In 1919, he converted his publishing company to the Micheaux Film and Book Company and produced a film version of the novel, which was the first full-length feature produced by an African American. Micheaux’s second film, Within Our Gates (1920), was his response to D. W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation, which glorified the Ku Klux Klan and was one of the most popular films at the time. Micheaux continued to make films over the next three decades, and would accomplish a number of significant firsts, such as the first full-length sound feature by an African American, The Exile (1931), and the first African American-produced film to open in white theaters, Betrayal (1948). For his contributions to film, the Directors Guild of America posthumously awarded Micheaux the Golden Jubilee Special Directorial Award in 1986. In 1987, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  end