Hutchins Center: Free tickets for screening of "Birth of a Movement"


Monday, January 30, 2017, 6:30pm


Somerville Theatre, 55 Davis Square, Somerville, MA


Sign up for tickets on Eventbrite


In 1915, Boston-based African American newspaper editor and activist William M. Trotter waged a battle against D.W. Griffith’s groundbreaking but notoriously Ku Klux Klan-friendly The Birth of a Nation, unleashing a fight that still rages today about race relations, media representation, and the power and influence of Hollywood.

Birth of a Movement, based on Dick Lehr's book by the same title, captures the backdrop to this ongoing struggle between human rights, freedom of speech, and a changing media landscape.

The film was scored by DJ Spooky and John Kusiac and features interviews with Spike Lee (whose NYU student film The Answer was a response to Griffith’s racist film), Reginald Hudlin (who produced the oscar winning Django Unchained and Oscars so White) , Henry Louis Gates Jr., and Dick Lehr, while exploring how Griffith’s film — long taught in film classes as an innovative work of genius — motivated generations of African American filmmakers and artists as they worked to reclaim their history and their onscreen image.

Given the current divisive racial climate, this film provides a timely look back at a forgotten chapter of civil rights history during another racially explosive era, and provides one man’s example of how to fight for positive change.

The film producers invite you to a panel discussion after the screening featuring Dick Lehr, Robert Bellinger, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Vince Brown, and Dolita Cathcar, moderated by Barbara Lewis, director of the Trotter Institute at UMASS Boston. Our entire event is free to the public.


Birth of a Movement will be broadcast on PBS/ Independent Lens, on February 6th,

Here is a link to the first four minutes of the film:

And a recent article:


Our program is supported by Mass Humanities, whose grants inspire thoughtful conversations and civic engagement throughout Massachusetts. See more about what Mass Humanities does here:

We hope to see you there!