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Marquis Oval in Rubbed Black April 26, 1915

The Birth of a Nation Sparks Protest

Greater Boston
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On this day in 1915 Boston's African American community protested the showing of the racist film The Birth of a Nation. When 800 black women gathered at a Baptist church, one speaker suggested that "if there are men here who are afraid to die there are women who are not afraid. This [movie] would not be tolerated if it affected any other race or people." In spite of rallies and demonstrations, the film opened on April 17, 1915, at the Tremont Theater. While African Americans protested, thousands of white Bostonians flocked to the film. Quite possibly the most controversial movie ever produced, The Birth of a Nation also has the distinction of being the first film shown in the White House.

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