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Early Silent Films Show African-American Life In The 20th Century14:22
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A scene from Oscar Micheaux's 1925 silent film, "Body and Soul."
A scene from Oscar Micheaux's 1925 silent film, "Body and Soul."

When you think of silent films of the 1920s, it's easy to think of the caricatures. The piano music. The villain with the handlebar mustache. The damsel in distress tied down on the traintracks.

But the caricatures of African-Americans were even worse. Demeaning, vulgar stereotypes were a mainstay of early 20th century mainstream silent films. But there were powerful, if little-known exceptions.

African-American directors were also making movies that spoke not to the stereotypes, but to the realities of African-American life in the 1920s. Their body of work will be celebrated this weekend in Brockton, in a special lecture at the 14th Annual African Festival & Marketplace. We take a closer look.

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This segment aired on February 23, 2012.

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