Oxford AASC: Photo Essay

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PHOTO ESSAY

Blacks in Film and Television

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Hattie McDaniel (right) as Mammy in Gone With the Wind, 1939

Courtesy of Culver Pictures

In 1939 Hattie McDaniel became the first African American to win an Academy Award. McDaniel received the Oscar for her performance as Mammy in Gone With the Wind. Like Stepin Fetchit, McDaniel was criticized by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for taking a role portraying the stereotype of a servile mammy. As McDaniel was one of the best known black actors of that period and she built her career by playing servants, she was a natural target for the NAACP. During the 1930s and 1940s the NAACP put a great deal of effort into addressing the negative portrayals of African Americans in film and radio. In many instances this effort to change social norms resulted in direct confrontations with black actors who were viewed as letting down their race.

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