1915 March 3

Protests Greet “Birth of a Nation” Opening in New York City


One of the most famous films in the history of the cinema, The Birth of a Nation glorified the Ku Klux Klan and presented a racist version of Reconstruction. The NAACP and other groups protested the film, sparking a long controversy over freedom of speech versus offensive hateful expression. The Birth of a Nation is important in film history because of Director D.W. Griffith’s innovative cinematic techniques to tell a dramatic story.

In Chicago, Mayor William (“Big Bill”) Thompson banned the film upon its release.

Later, on December 8, 1922, New York City officials banned the showing of the film in response to civil rights protests.

Read: Melvyn Stokes, D.W. Griffith’s the Birth of a Nation: A History of the Most Controversial Motion Picture of All Time (2007)

Watch excerpts from “Birth of a Nation:” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9t-7SVbLjBw

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