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Beyond BlackfaceAfrican Americans and the Creation of American Popular Culture, 1890-1930$
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W. Fitzhugh Brundage

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780807834626

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807878026_brundage

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The Secret Life of Oscar Micheaux

The Secret Life of Oscar Micheaux

Race Films, Contested Histories, and Modern American Culture

Chapter:
(p.215) The Secret Life of Oscar Micheaux
Source:
Beyond Blackface
Author(s):

Robert Jackson

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/9780807878026_brundage.15

This chapter focuses on the year 1884, which recalls less the dancing of celluloid images onscreen than the gliding of a makeshift raft down the Mississippi River. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain's masterpiece of that year, chronicled the journey of its title character and the escaped slave Jim away from their hamlet in northern Missouri into the heart of the South, where their interracial bond would face, and survive, severe trials. If things had been different, however, if Huck and Jim had not missed a key left turn at Cairo, Illinois, they would have come to a small town called Metropolis a few miles up the Ohio River. There in Metropolis, in 1884, Oscar Micheaux was born, one of eleven children of former slaves. Micheaux's parents could identify both with the world of slavery Twain described and with Jim's eagerness for freedom; determined to see their children take advantage of opportunities denied to themselves a generation earlier in the South, Calvin and Bell Micheaux had settled in Metropolis largely because of the town's schools.

Keywords:   celluloid images, Mark Twain, escaped slave, Jim, interracial bond, Huck

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