A Great American
The American Negro
The Bergen Evening Record
The Double Struggle
Way Down South Up North
369th Infantry
Wall Unit Display


THE BIRTH OF A NATION also known as THE CLANSMAN, is one of the
most influential and controversial films in the history of American cinema. Set during     
and after the Civil War and directed by D.W. Griffith, the film was based on Thomas
Dixon's THE CLANSMAN, a novel and play, and was released on February 1915. THE
BIRTH OF A NATION is important in film history for its innovative technical and  
narrative achievements, and for its status as the first Hollywood “blockbuster. ”It is also
hugely controversial, both in its own day and today, for its promotion of white superiority
and the glorification of the KKK. The growth of the KKK can be directly linked to  
this movie. This movie was shown from 1915 and on through the 1920's and then was
 not shown as often because “talkies” started in 1927. This was the time, 1922, when
 Nellie K. {Morrow} Parker, was being given a chance to be a teacher in Fairmount
School . The KKK, which met in Bergenfield marched by there house for several days
during the summer before she was to start. If you think that the KKK never met in   
Bergenfield think again, I work with a man who grew up in Bergenfield and he said  
“we all heard the stories.'                                                                                        
Woodrow Wilson's writing's are quoted in the movie and the President, his
family and his cabinet members had a private viewing of the movie at the White house.
The film drew significant protest from the African- American community upon its     
release. The NAACP, founded in 1910, protested premieres of the film in numerous
cities. The NAACP also conducted a public relations campaign, publishing articles
protesting the film's fabrications and inaccuracies, organizing petitions against it, and
conducting education on the facts of the war and reconstruction.
 This movie has become an important object lesson in how the relationship of
popular media to public can perpetuate racial stereotypes. This movie and President
Woodrow Wilson's attitude towards it put into context the struggle of Fred Himmel and
 why he would make the statement in his letter home about his service to his country,

“But I am doing it for you all that this race of ours will progress.”

Written by:
March 22, 2008


Fred Himmel