New Black Film Collection Emerges from Tyler Warehouse - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

09/10/03 - Tyler

New Black Film Collection Emerges from Tyler Warehouse

They came from a dusty warehouse in Tyler. The year: 1983, and a man stumbles across canisters of film. They tell the story of the struggles of the early 20th century -- struggles of African-Americans told through their eyes.

"It expresses what our ancestors and grandparents did way back when," says John Tyler High Freshman Cagney Sanders.

The students at John Tyler are seeing this collection for the first time -- nine films from the thirties and forties, and newsreels from the fifties that tell of the early years of the civil rights movement.

Anthony Chris Williams, JT Senior: "You know about the blackface and what the TV shows were doing as parodies, but to think that there were black movies produced back in the thirties and that they were produced in this area -- in the south -- that they were kind of hidden in this environment, it's kind of intriguing."

Remastered and copied by SMU in Dallas, the box sets will be distributed to schools across the state. There are musicals, spirituals, and dramas. Some had white actors, but under black direction. It's something that was very unusual at that time.

"It teaches us that together, we can produce great works of art, [and] you can do great things," says JT senior Joey Antilley.

"So much of our history has already been lost. And this was another part that many people didn't know about and now, a lot of people will learn about," Williams added.

The DVD sets will be distributed to 1,000 schools statewide.

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