A mixed group of African Americans and whites in front of the Paramount Theater in Oakland protest the Walt Disney film "Song of the South". They are carrying signs that read "We want films on Democracy not Slavery", "Disney should further Democracy not Slavery", "Support nationwide boycott of the film", and "Don't prejudice childrens minds with films like this." Excerpt from "Black in American Films: Today and Yesterday" by Edward Mapp (Metuchen, N.J.: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1972): "...The Southern Negro folk tales of Joel Chandler Harris came to the screen in 1947 as Walt Disney's 'Song of the South.' Negro actor James Baskett, as Uncle Remus, sang 'Zippity Doo Dah' and told stories which were visualized by Disney animation. Lawrence Lemarr summarized the argument for and against the picture as follows: '...one opposing school of thought maintained that the story material was a reflection on the Negro and that it was antebellum and Uncle Tomish, while the other asserted that it was a mere whimsical fairy tale and that no harm would be suffered through its filming.'" (pages 43-44) Excerpt from "Walt Disney, Hollywood's Dark Prince: A Biography" by Marc Eliot (New York: Birch Lane Press Book, 1993). "As production began on the film, Disney announced in the trades 'Uncle Remus' would be an 'epochal event in screen history.' Following the announcement, a newly formed Hollywood organization, the Interracial Film and Radio Guild, expressed concern that the film might portray blacks in a degrading fashion. The guild's board included such prominent blacks as George H. Schuyler and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and, according to their charter, 'other Chinese, Mexicans, Jews, and Negroes.' Disney responded by changing the name of the film to 'Song of the South,' a title he considered less offensive. He declared the film would be 'a monument to the Negro race' with as much historical impact as 'Gone With the Wind.' The guild's reaction had angered Walt. After making that announcement, his enthusiasm for the film evaporated, and he put the production entirely in the hands of his staff. That same week a file was opened by the FBI on the activities of the guild and its board of directors." (pages 183-184) This photo was not used in the Oakland Tribune.

Bookmark and Share