Hollywood Producers' Failure to Fulfill 1942 Pledge Perpetuated Prejudice
Hollywood honchos told a big lie 74-years ago.
That lie told in 1942 is a link in the sordid chain of perceptions and practices that have produced the present brouhaha surrounding the 2016 Oscar awards featuring an all-white bevy of acting category nominations.
That lie is part of a legacy the stretches to the very founding of the United States of America. That legacy is the persistent refusal to forthrightly tackle racism, particularly insidious institutional racism.
The fact that so few have no clue about this Hollywood lie evidences the need for better understandings about facets of American history that are purposely forgotten yet have a pronounced impact on the contours of current society.
Highlighting forgotten facets is a prime reason for the existence of Black History Month, an annual recognition of the contributions and achievements of African-Americans held every February. However, each year, many across America castigate Black History Month as unnecessary and divisive.
It’s not surprising that many of those who find Black History Month unacceptable are comfortable with accepting a movie industry that continues to present an illusion of inclusion while fanning the race prejudice that pollutes the very core of democracy in America.
Interestingly, assailing Black History Month is an interracial exercise in America. Critics of Black History Month include blacks, most recently FOX News commentator Stacy Dash, a person who gained her stature through starring in the 1995 Hollywood movie “Clueless” and its network television spinoff.
That Hollywood lie is rooted in the summer of 1942, when top movie industry producers in Tinseltown pledged to provide better roles for black actors and to improve the images of blacks presented in their movies.
But those Hollywood honchos failed to fulfill their pledge made during a meeting with the then head of the NAACP, America’s largest Civil Rights organization.
That meeting and its unprecedented pledge made headlines in the Black Press across America. “Movie Moguls Pledge To Give Race Better Roles –- Executives High In Hollywood Promise Change,” stated the headline on an August 1942 article published in the Atlanta Daily World newspaper.
An article in the Pittsburgh Courier, a black newspaper that campaigned for changes in Hollywood, quoted the then president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who stated, “This is one of the greatest moments this industry has ever had for doing the job we have all dreamed of doing for our country and the world.”