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Films >> Rosewood (1997) >>

The Birth of a Nation (1915)
Described by Roger Ebert as "a great film that argues for evil," The Birth of a Nation took the United States by storm with its 1915 release. Its positive portrayal of the Ku Klux Klan and touchy subjects of white supremacy and the dehumanization of blacks led to riots and violent racism in conjunction with film showings. In addition to being credited as a landmark in cinematic history, The Birth of a Nation was released during a troubled time in American history and is credited by some as a catalyst for an increase in lynchings and white versus black violence. An uncomfortable film to watch, Griffith's 1915 work offers modern viewers a look into the popular culture and media of the past. The film focuses upon the relationship between two families as a vehicle to explore racial stereotypes, the effect of the Civil War, and Reconstruction. In relation to Singleton's Rosewood, it is important to note that The Birth of a Nation was a popular film in the years immediately preceding the Rosewood Massacre of 1923. Certainly, the revival of the post-Civil War KKK along with increased feelings of nationalism offer valuable insight into an attempted understanding of the actions of the white mob during the fateful January of 1923.
Boyz N the Hood (1991)
Director John Singleton was immediately successful in Hollywood through his first film, Boyz in the Hood. This 1991 drama portrays the lives of three young African Americans (cast includes: Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Morris Chestnut) coming of age in a racially divided South Central Los Angeles during the early 1990's. Similar to Rosewood, Singleton presents themes of the vicious cycle and life trajectories of African Americans in post-Reconstruction America. Though set seventy years later, Boyz in the Hood is related to Rosewood in a variety of ways. Perhaps the most poignant parallel would be that of the sense of hopelessness that usurps a feeling of optimism or potential for the blacks in America. As Aunt Sarah expresses in Rosewood, "Things been looking the same as long as I can remember" (01:07:40). Singleton's Boyz in the Hood characters represent a continuum of young African-American men – ranging from the aspiring college-bound football star to the troubled, drug abuser. Deemed "culturally significant" by the United States Library of Congress, Boyz in the Hood offers a realistically startling view of gang violence, poverty, and drug abuse in 1991 America. Though violence is a predominant theme in both Boyz in the Hood and Rosewood, Boyz in the Hood focuses upon black on black violence, while Rosewood highlights white supremacy and white versus black violence. Comparison of these two John Singleton films promotes recognition of the true magnitude that race has played in America throughout the 1900's. Boyz in the Hood and Rosewood offer complementary depictions of a 1920's black Florida and a 1990's black Los Angeles.

See Also

Cross of Fire (1989)

The Crucible (1996)

Daughters of the Dust (1992)

Do the Right Thing (1989)

Ghosts of Mississippi (1996)

Higher Learning (1995)

Jasper, Texas (2003)

Malcolm X (1992)

Mississippi Burning (1988)

Poetic Justice (1993)

Roots (1977)

Schindler's List (1993)

They Won't Forget (1937)

A Time to Kill (1996)

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)