Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, American, 1878 - 1949 Search this
D.C. Public Library, American, founded 1896 Search this
Duration (Reel 1): 26 Minutes
Length (Film): 950 Feet
Duration (Reel 2): 31 Minutes
Length (Film): 1100 Feet
color films (visual works)
16mm (photographic film size)
Washington, District of Columbia, United States, North and Central America
This film was a part of the Washington D.C. Public Library's circulating 16mm film collection housed at the Martin Luther King Jr. Central Library. The collection is particularly noted for the wide variety of African American and African diaspora content.
A documentary film with the title “Black History: Lost, Stolen, or Strayed” from the Of Black America television series. It consists of two (2) reels of color 16mm acetate film with optical sound.
The documentary opens with narrator Bill Cosby discussing contributions that African Americans have made to American Life, such as Norbert Rillieux's contributions to refining sugar; Jan Ernst Matzeliger's contributions to shoe manufacturing; Matthew Henson being one of the first men to successfully make an expedition to the North Pole; and Daniel Hale Williams performing the world's first open-heart surgery. Cosby then questions why these pioneering African Americans were excluded from history textbooks. After discussing the innovations of African Americans, Cosby discusses a study which compares the way white children and black children view and represent the world around them through art.
The rest of the documentary mostly focuses on African Americans in film. Cosby states that white filmmakers routinely represented black characters in ways that reinforced erroneous stereotypes about black people. He discusses films such as Uncle Tom's Cabin, The Birth of a Nation and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, as well as African American actors such as Stepin Fetchit, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Sidney Poitier and several others. In the final scenes, he comments on beauty culture and the practice of black men chemically straightening their hair, as well as shows footage of a man educating a small class of young children on the importance of black pride.