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Is It Just Art? Unveiling the Untold History of the Way Down East Statue A Presentation by Students Together Against Racism in collaboration with The Multicultural.

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Presentation on theme: "Is It Just Art? Unveiling the Untold History of the Way Down East Statue A Presentation by Students Together Against Racism in collaboration with The Multicultural."— Presentation transcript:

1 Is It Just Art? Unveiling the Untold History of the Way Down East Statue A Presentation by Students Together Against Racism in collaboration with The Multicultural United Student Task Force

2 Who is D. W Griffith? David Wark Griffith was born on January 22 nd, 1875 in Lagrange, Kentucky. He was hired by the American Biography Company in 1908 where he directed hundreds of short cinema productions. Griffith was named the “Father of Cinema” for his groundbreaking cinematic techniques.

3 Who is Griffith? By the time the “roaring 20’s” came around, Griffith had established a legendary name for himself but his films did not appeal to the younger generation. Griffith died on July 23, 1948 in a small Los Angeles hotel.

4 Griffith’s Most Praised Films Birth of a Nation (1915) Intolerance (1916) Hearts of the World (1918) Way Down East (1920) Orphans of the Storm (1922)

5 Way Down East This melodramatic love story starring Lillian Gish and Richard Barthelmess tells of a young woman who was tricked into marriage. Her husband leaves her after she finds out she is pregnant. Her knight in shining armor (Barthelmess) comes to her rescue when she is trapped in a frozen river.

6 The Birth of A Nation The Birth of A Nation was filmed in 1915 after the novel “The Clansmen” was written by Thomas Dixon was published.

7 The effects of Birth of a Nation After the film was released in 1915, blacks were outraged at the historical distortion that the movie presented. However, Ku Klux Klan members were re-energized by the film’s portrayal of the black man and sought out to protect southern white women from the “savage negro”. Consequently, lynching in the south dramatically increased during this time period.

8 The corpses of five African American males, Nease Gillepsie, John Gillepsie, "Jack" Dillingham, Henry Lee, and George Irwin with onlookers. August 6, Salisbury, North Carolina. Lynching of African American male. 1960, McDuffie County, Georgia. Strange Fruit

9 The barefoot corpse of Laura Nelson. May 25, 1911, Okemah, Oklahoma The lynching of Joseph Richardson, damaged shoeshine stand. September 26, 1913, Leitchfield Kentucky Southern trees bear strange fruit, Blood on the leaves and blood at the root, Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze, Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

10 Pastoral scene of the gallant south, The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth, Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh, Then the sudden smell of burning flesh

11 Here is the fruit for the crows to pluck, For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck, For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop, Here is a strange and bitter crop.

12 The Way Down East Statue

13 Who is Red Grooms? Red Grooms was born in Nashville, Tn in He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, Peabody College, Nashville, the New School for Social Research, New York, and with Hans Hofmann at his Provincetown, Massachusetts studio.

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15 Red Grooms Red Grooms was chosen by Northern Kentucky University to create a sculpture depicting a famous Kentuckian. In 1979, Grooms presented the Way Down East Statue to NKU’s campus. The statue celebrates the life threatening risks that Lillian Gish and the Way Down East film crew took to make the film. However, in 1999, a debate about the negative social effects and racist views that D. W. Griffith had during his lifetime arose and people became offended by the implications of the glorification of Griffith.

16 Controversy At NKU about the Statue In 1999, a educated debate started between those of the art world and those of the sociopolitical world. In turn, students carried the torch on the debate and grieved to administration about what it represented. The statue was moved from the University Plaza to the front of the Fine Arts building.

17 Continued Controversy at NKU about the statue In Fall 2003, the statue again raised some questions when it was brought up at a Race Dialogue. Students were offended and associate the statue with a Ku Klux Klan robe.

18 In closing, Griffith was a prolific movie maker of his time but some of his movies had negative effects on society. This statue represents to many African American students a symbol of hate and racism.


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