Decades Before Tyler Perry And Lee Daniels There Was Oscar Micheaux Ruling The Big Screen

Written by Storyteller

Oscar Micheaux was a black film maker who dedicated his life and career to end the segregation that existed in Hollywood and society as a whole. He was said to have created and directed over 45 films.  His most famous film was the film called “Homesteader”, which debuted in 1919. This film was based on his novel by the same name. Both were based on his personal experience as a homesteader.  The film was the first full length feature film produced by a black person. This film creation and production is what caused him to be the first black movie director.

Oscar Micheaux was born on January 2nd, 1884 in Metropolis, Illinois. His parents were Calvin and Belle Micheaux who were former slaves. Oscar was the fifth child of the thirteen who were born to his parents. When Oscar was seventeen years old, he moved to Chicago where he lived until he was twenty one years old.  He then moved to South Dakota where he became a farmer, and purchased land. He also became a writer.  His first novel which he wrote and self-published in 1913 was entitled: “The Conquest: The Story of a Negro Pioneer”.  After drought which led to financial hardship, he had to give up his land and move to Iowa.

Oscar then started his own publishing company. He then rewrote his first novel, and published it as “The Homesteader”. He took his renamed novel and sold it door to door. Soon he was approached by others to make a movie about it. However those who were interested were not keen on allowing Oscar to direct the film, nor did they like his proposed budget.  Micheaux decided then to switch gears and turn his publishing company into a film company. He then took money and produced his feature film “The Homesteader” in 1919 on eight reels.  It was well received by those who watched the film.

Oscar died on March 25th, 1951 in North Carolina while on tour. He was known by others to be a man before his time.


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