The Micheaux Film & Book Company was established by Oscar Micheaux in the late 1910s. Micheaux was born in Metropolis, Illinois in 1884. In 1900, he left for Chicago and worked for a time as a Pullman Porter. By 1904, he moved to South Dakota to homestead, but lost his land in 1915. He moved to Sioux City, Iowa and set about writing and publishing novels about his experiences. He fired the Western Book and Supply Co. to publish and sell his novels. He relocated to Chicago and renamed his company the Micheaux Film & Book Company and began to make films, using the sales of his novels to help fund his pictures.
The first film produced by the Micheaux Company was a film adaptation of his first novel, The Homesteader. The 8-reel film holds the distinction of being the first feature film made by an African American. It premiered in Chicago on February 20, 1919 and included footage filmed in Sioux City, South Dakota, and scenes filmed in one of the Selig studios.
This initial effort helped usher in Micheaux as a true filmmaker. His follow up, Within Our Gates, was Micheaux's response to Birth of a Nation and faced much controversy and censorship. Despite initial protest from censor boards, Micheaux and his films received a lot of attention. Although he eventually moved his production company out of Chicago, Micheaux never lost his drive, nor his dedication to making films that starred and truly appealed to black audiences. With a career that lasted until his death in 1951, and included 44 films, Micheaux earned the distinction of becoming the first black director to regularly have his name appear above the title of his films.
Within Our Gates
The Symbol of the Unconquered
Selected Cast and Crew
Charles D. Lucas
Watch the films of Oscar Micheaux by visiting the link below.