Black FILMMAKERS HALL OF FAME HISTORY
Filmmakers Hall of Fame Oscar Micheaux Awards Ceremony was started in February
1974 during Black History Month by the Cultural and Ethnic Affairs Guild of the
Oakland Museum to recognize and illuminate the contributions of Blacks to film
-- and express concern about the negative, stereotyped roles that were
available to Black male and female actors including the so-called “black
exploitation” films of the 70’s.
were limited to roles as maids, mammy’s, servants, buffoons, pimps and
prostitutes, drug dealers and/or users
Because of the overwhelming support from the stars, media, community,
and corporate sponsors, the program (which was intended to be a one time event)
was presented by the Guild at the Paramount Theater until 1978. In 1978, some of the founding members
(including Margot Hicks, Mary Perry Smith, Don Therence, and Henrietta Green) left
the Oakland Museum and established a non-profit volunteer educational and
cultural enrichment institution called the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame,
Incorporated with the stated goals to research, study, teach, preserve and
illuminate the contributions of Blacks to film and television, and create a
change in the negative images of Blacks as they were portrayed in these
powerful communication media by promoting and encouraging a new generation of
independent Black filmmakers.
With the help of hundreds
of volunteers each year during Black History Month, the organization presented
programs to educate the community through Film Lectures, Symposiums, Meet the
Director Series, Film Premiers, Black Film Festivals, and an International
Independent Film Competition, in which the stars came from Los
Angeles and New York
to participate as volunteers. These programs were presented at the James Moore
Theater at the Oakland Museum, Dwinnell Hall on the University
of California campus, the Grand Lake
Theatre in Oakland, and various other venues in Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco.
In addition, the organization held an annual Gala Dinner Dance as a fundraiser on Saturday evening at various locations in Oakland, Berkeley or San Francisco to help cover the cost of the Oscar Micheaux Awards Ceremony, which was presented on Sunday afternoon at the Paramount Theater in Oakland. At the Awards Ceremony, the organization recognized the before the camera and behind the camera contributions of well known stars, little known artist, as well as those early filmmakers who were either unknown to the masses or who had been forgotten.
1974 to 1993, the volunteer organization was able to get nearly every Black
film and television star and others from the film and television industry to
come to Oakland as volunteers to participate in the program as presenters,
inductees into the Hall of Fame and recipients of either the Paul Robeson Medal
for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts or the Clarence Muse Youth Award.
from the entertainment industry also volunteered their services as performers including
singers, dancers and comedians.
the Hall of Fame were given the Oscar Micheaux Award in honor of the pioneering
Black filmmaker from the early 20’s who wrote, produced, directed, and
distributed his films which starred all black casts in films for and about
Others were given
the Paul Robeson Medal for Outstanding Achievement in the Performing and
Creative Arts, or the Clarence Muse Youth Award in recognition of their
Largely as result
of the organization’s efforts, Oscar Micheaux received a star on the Hollywood
Walk of Fame from the Director’s Guild of America in 1986.
This Web Site documents the entire 20 plus year history of the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame through hundreds of photographs, newspapers, magazines, and other print media, including the Oakland Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner, Daily Californian, Oakland Post, California Voice, Sun Reporter, Observer, Jet Magazine, Ebony Magazine, Soul Magazine and Sepia Magazine.
With the help of Seagram’s – Mumm VSOP Cognac,
Ebony Magazine did a feature story on the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame, Inc.
in October 1986 entitled “Coast to Coast Salute to Black Filmmakers.” The Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame, Inc was again
recognized in Ebony magazine in 1988 in a feature article entitled “From Oscar
Micheaux to Eddie Murphy Black America’s Rich Film History.”
Film, television, recording, and entertainment stars who participated in
the events each year included, but were not limited to:
Harry Belafonte, Diahann Carroll, Lena Horne, Eartha Kitt, Ossie Davis, Ruby
Dee, James Earl Jones, Alex Haley, Louis Gossett, Jr. LaVar Burton, Cisely
Tyson, Billy Dee Williams, Richard Pryor, Sammy Davis, Jr., Pattie La Belle,
Gladys Knight, Bubba Knight, Pam Grier, Deniece Nicholas, Richard Rountree,
Ryan O’Neal, Fred Williamson, Jim Brown, The Nicholas Brothers, Danny Glover,
Suzanne De Passe, Barry White, Jermaine Jackson, Michael Jamal Warner, Esther
Rolle, John Amos, Dizzy Gillespie, Lou Rawls, Melvin Van Peoples, Mario Van
Peoples, Robin Givens, Gordon Parks, Moses Gunn, Roscoe Lee Brown, Ben Vereen,
Robert Guillome, Whoopie Goldberg, Margaret Avery, Nel Carter, Spike Lee,
Denzel Washington, Cab Calloway, Lola Falana, Vanessa Williams, Gregory Hines,
Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, Marilynn McCoo, Billy Davis, Jr., Dawn Lewis,
Robert Hooks, Kevin Hooks, Raymond St. Jacques, Jennifer Holiday, Clifton
Davis, Sinbad, Jayne Kennedy, Leon Isaac Kennedy, Robert Townsend, Keenan Ivory
Wayans, Marla Gibbs, Clifton Davis, Nancy Wilson, Don Cornelius, Shirley Temple
Black, Paul Mooney, Brock Peters, Ted Lange, Michael Shultz, Dianne Reeves,
Morris Day, Gloria Foster, Lincoln Theodore Perry “Steppin Fetchit,” Vonetta
McGee, Carl Lumley, Alfre Woodard, Geoffrey Holder, Arthur Mitchell of the
Dance Theater of Harlem, Alvin Ailey and Judith Jameson of the Alvin Ailey
Dancers, Debbie Allen, Phylicia Rashad, Edwin Hawkins, Tremaine Hawkins, Eddie
“Rochester” Anderson, Chaka Khan, Woody Strode, Bernie Casey, Glynn Turman,
Jasmine Guy, Jon Hendricks, John Handy, Regina Belle, Carl Anderson, Adolph
Caesar, Paula Kelly, Howard Rollins, Rosalind Cash, Lloyd Bridges, Diane
Reeves, Eubie Blake, H.B. Barnum, Carmen De Lavalade, August Wilson, Lloyd
Richards, Cheryl Lee Ralph, MC Hammer, En Vogue, Yaphet Koto, Minnie Ripperton,
Leslie Uggams, Ivan Dixon, Abbey Lincoln, Earl “Fatha” Hines, Bennett Carter,
Hazel Scott, George Wallace, Butterfly McQueen, Herb Jeffries, Claudia McNeil,
Bernie Hamilton, Bee Freeman. Roxie Roker, Joel Fluellen, Screaming Jay
Hawkins, Barbara McNair, Nichelle Nichols, Kyle Johnson, Vincent Tubbs, Dee Dee
Bridgewater, Clarence Muse, Madge Sinclair, James Avery, Beverly Johnson,
Lawrence Hilton Jacobs, Ren Woods, Lenny Williams, Jackee Harry, Todd Duncan,
Etta Moten, Bea Richards, Glynn Turman, Bobby McFerrin, Rae Dawn Chong, Kadeem
Hardison, Judy Pace, Mel Stewart, Gloria Gifford, Savion Glover, Frederick
O’Neal, Virginia Capers, Bill Duke, Lillian Randolph, Vinette Carroll, Al
Jareau, Randy Crawford, William Greaves, Maxine Weldon, Phil Moore, Hugh
Robertson, Jester Harrison, Lorenzo Tucker, Jeni Legon, Ernest Frederick
Morrison “Sunshine Sammy”, Richard Lawson, Tracy Camilla Johns, Eugene Jackson,
Tisha Campbell, Juanita Moore, William Marshall, James A. Watson, Jr., Allen
Clayton Hoskins, Don Mitchell, Max Julian, Rae Dawn Chong, Loretta Divine, John
Thaddeus, Michael Peters and the Michael Peters Dancers, Reginald and Wortington
Hudlin, Oscar Brown, Jr. Byron Allen, Floyd Norman and Leo Sullivan, Lonnie
Elder III, Shari Belafonte Harper, Paul Winfield, Tommy Davidson, Helen Martin,
Tempest Bledsoe, Madeline Anderson, Charles Dutton, Shelia Frazier, Blair
Underwood, Lynn Whitfield, Debbie Morgan, Kim Coles, Joi Lee, Julie Dash, John
Singleton, Kiki Shephard, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Angela Bassett, Samuel
Jackson, (and many other television, and entertainment stars.) Bill Cosby and
Jerry Lewis appeared by satellite during the induction of Lola Falana into the
Hall of Fame and Special Tribute to Sammy Davis Jr.
Numerous local TV news personalities volunteered their services as follows: Belva Davis was a Board member and served as Executive Producer or co Executive Producer for most of the 20 years. Sonny Buxton Produced the Awards show the first year. Dennis Richmond, Valerie Coleman, Gerri Lange, and Barbara Rogers served as host during the Sidewalk Reception in front of the Paramount Theater.
Assembly Speaker and San Francisco Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr. was a member of
our National Advisory Board, and former Congressman and former Oakland Mayor
Ron Dellums, the late former Mayor of Oakland Lionel Wilson and former Oakland
Mayor Elihu Harris and former Berkeley Mayor Warren Widener were participants
and presenters at the Awards Program.
celebrities supported the events, including Reverend Cecil Williams of Glide Memorial, former 49er greats Jerry
Rice, Ronnie Lott, Roger Craig, and Keena Turner and former Golden State Warrior
coach Al Attles.
Members of our
National Advisory Board included Dr. Roy Thomas and the late Dr. Albert Johnson
who were both faculty members and taught Black Film history in U.C. Berkeley’s Black
Studies Department. Dr. Albert Johnson
was nationally recognized as a film critic and he and Dr. Roy Thomas regularly
contributed articles to our annual souvenir catalog.
In addition to the Annual Black Filmmakers
Hall of Fame Oscar Micheaux Awards, Gala Dinner and Dance, Film Lecture Series,
Symposium, Meet The Director Series, International Independent Film
Competition, the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame participated in special events
during the year including the following:
Promotion and sale of tickets for the movie “A Piece of The
Action.” James Earl Jones was the actor
who came to Oakland’s
Grand Lake Theatre in 1977 to interact with and answer questions from the
Promotion and sale of tickets for the screening of the movie “Guess
Who’s Coming to Dinner.” Bea Richards
was the actress who came to Oakland’s
Grand Lake Theatre to interact with and answer questions from the audience in
Urban League Convention in Los
Angeles in 1978. Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Company
donated its space and materials at the 1978 convention for an Exhibit of the
Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame. Inc.
Brock Peters and his wife were special guest.
Special Award Presentation and Tribute to Lena
Horne in 1978. Lena Horne was shocked
and surprised when she received the Oscar Micheaux Award from the Black
Filmmakers Hall of Fame during her second curtain call at the Orpheum Theater in
San Francisco where she was performing with Clifton Davis
in “Pal Joey.” Lena Horne was unable to attend the Black Filmmakers Hall of
Fame Awards show at the Paramount Theater in Oakland when she was actually inducted in
1975. She was a co-host of the 1979
Special Proclamation from Tom Bradley, Mayor of Los Angeles in 1978.
Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Company pledged $50,000 for Black
Filmmakers Hall of Fame Building Campaign in 1978.
(7) Golden State Warriors Coach Al Attles agreed to Co-Chair Building Campaign with Assemblyman Willie Brown, Jr., Oakland Mayor Lionel Winfield, and Paul Winfield in 1978.
(8) Paul Winfield agreed to Co-Chair Building Committee 1978.
(9) Black Filmmakers Hall of
Fame sponsored Film Symposium at Wheeler
of California (Berkeley) in 1979.
Private basketball game at Laney
College in April, 1983 where Marvin
Gaye and members of his band competed with members of KDIA and KSOL radio
stations and members of the Golden
State Warriors. He then
performed at Circle Star Theater in San
Carlos on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Harry Belafonte was presented his 1983 Paul Robeson Award for
Outstanding Achievement in Theater Arts backstage at the Paramount Theater in Oakland in 1984. He was unable to attend the 1983 Oscar
Micheaux Awards where his daughter Sheri Belafonte Harper received the Clarence
Muse Award. Harry Belafonte was inducted
into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame in 1976.
Promotion and sale of tickets for Theater Party for Whoopie Goldberg’s
one woman show “Mom’s Mabley” at the Deharo Theatre in San Francisco in 1984 before she became a
star in the Color Purple.
Promotion and sale of tickets for Debbie Allen who was starring in
“Sweet Charity” in San Francisco
in 1985. Debbie Allen received the
Clarence Muse Award from the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame in 1976.
(14) KOOL cigarettes and Phyllis Hyman’s promotion group chose the Black Filmmakers to participate in their cigarette giveaway and promotion program and receive a grant from the company. Phyllis Hyman performed at a park in West Oakland around 1985.
(15) With Fred Williamson after Phyllis Hyman Concert in West Oakland around 1985
(16) Recruited Grover Washington, Jr. to perform at Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame Gala and Awards Show Weekend. He was unable to perform due to scheduling conflict.
(17) Eartha Kitt was presented with her 1975 Oscar Micheaux Award and her handprints were taken in San Francisco in 1986. She was unable to attend the Oscar Micheaux Awards in Oakland in 1975 when she was officially inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame at the Paramount Theater. She later attended the Seagram’s VSOP Cognac Ebony Magazine event in New York in October 1986 entitled “Coast to Coast Salute to Black Filmmakers.”
With the help of Seagram’s – Mumm
Ebony Magazine did a feature story on the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame, Inc.
in October 1986 entitled “Coast to Coast Salute to Black Filmmakers.” The Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame, Inc was
again recognized in Ebony magazine in 1988 in a feature article entitled “From
Oscar Micheaux to Eddie Murphy Black America’s Rich FilmHistory.”
Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame, Inc. sponsored Theater Party for Brock
Peters starring in Driving Miss Daisy in San
Francisco in 1989.
(20) With San
Francisco 49ers Coach Bill Walsh in 1989. Adrienne Warren and I attended Broadcast
Skills Bank Event.
(21) The 16th, 17th, 18, and
19th (1989, 1990, 1991 and 1992) Oscar Micheaux Awards Shows were
televised and distributed through national syndication by Uniworld, who brought
on AT&T and Kodak as sponsors of the entire Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame
weekend, including the Gala Dinner Dance, Oscar Micheaux Awards Show,
and the educational programs (Film Lecture Series, Symposium, Meet the Director
Series, International Independent Film Competition.) See Video Clips.
Brock Peters Hosts “Black Visions: The Life and Works of Oscar Micheaux
on Black Entertainment Television (BET) in 1991.
(23) Kodak sponsored the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame “Black Filmworks” in 1990, and several additional years, which was a festival of Black films written, directed, and produced by independent Black filmmakers. This program was derived from Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame International Independent Film Competition, Symposium, and Film Lecture Series begun back in the 1970s. When Kodak stopped sponsoring “Black Filmworks,” Belva Davis and Ave Montague then took the program to San Francisco where it became and still is known as the annual San Francisco Black Film Festival which is presented in February during Black History Month.
(24) Promotion and sale of tickets for the movie “Strictly Business” starring Halle Berry and Tommy Davidson in 1991. Tommy Davidson came to Oakland to interact with and answer questions from the audience.
(25) Promotion and sale of tickets for the movie “Malcolm X.” in 1992. Spike Lee who received the Clarence Muse Youth Award from the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame in 1988 donated to the organization all revenues derived from the showing of the film at the Grand Lake Theatre in Oakland.
(26) In 1995, UC Berkeley’s Pacific Film Archives conducted a series of films during the month of August called “Black Exploitation’s Back.” Black film actress Pam Grier, who appeared in many of the so-called black exploitation films, and was a frequent participant in Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame programs over the years was the guest speaker on August 1, the opening night of the film series.
(27) In 1999 Halle Berry was presented with the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame Vision Award for producing and starring in the HBO film “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge.” The movie “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge” was screened at the Paramount Theater in Oakland and Halle Barry attended a reception in Oakland’s Preservation Park.
(28) The cast and crew of “Girlfriends” were honored by the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame in 2005.
(29) ) The 16th, 17th, 18, and 19th (1989, 1990, 1991 and 1992) Oscar Micheaux Awards Shows were televised and distributed through national syndication by Uniworld, who brought on AT&T and Kodak as sponsors of the entire Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame weekend, including the Gala Dinner Dance, Oscar Micheaux Awards Show, and the educational programs (Film Lecture Series, Symposium, Meet the Director Series, International Independent Film Competition.)
These VHS tapes of the Awards show were converted to DVDs and they ran continuously during an Exhibition at the Jazz Heritage Center in San Francisco in February, 2011. See video clips. I also showed the following DVDs “100 years of Blacks in Cinema,” “Oscar’s Strange Odyssey,” from Hattie to Halle” and “The First 50 Years of Blacks on Television.”
These tapes ran in the Media Center and were shown in the Lobby to Yoshi’s patrons by closed circuit television Hundreds of 8x10 photographs were scanned and displayed on large museum type panels which hung in the lobby going into Yoshi’s and other places in the Jazz Heritage Center.
Along with the NAACP Image Awards in Los Angeles, the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame, Inc. were pioneers and leaders in the civil rights movement for equality for Blacks in the film and television industry by advocating positive roles and images for Blacks in film and television and illuminating Black contributions to film, television, and the entertainment industry.
The Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame, Incorporated was not only preserving and presenting history, but with the help of the many stars and entertainers who volunteered their time and the hundreds of Bay Area volunteers from all walks of life and professions were also making history.I as the Attorney, Vice President, Secretary, and Chair of Special Public Relations and Publicity made an effort to preserve and present this important history.
We thank the many independent photographers, including Ira Atkins, Rickey Ashford, Jake Blanchette, Joffre Clark, Jim Dennis, George Livingston, Jr., Garry Shields, Eddie Moss, Joseph’s Photography and others, as well as the photo journalist working for the various news media for documenting this truly unique involvement of Hollywood and entertainment stars volunteering with ordinary citizens to accomplish a mutually perceived worthy goal.
We also thank Caspar Banjo for taking the handprints of the Inductees and honorees for many years and Cleveland Bellow for designing the poster used in the introduction to the Archives.
I would also like to acknowledge Shirley Vayson Smith who was the organization’s Volunteer Chairperson for her contributions in collecting and presenting this history.
We were never able to establish an actual building consisting of bricks and mortar for the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame Museum.
It is my hope that this Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame Archives Web Site on the Wide World Web will serve as a Museum without walls preserving and illuminating the contributions of those in the past and encouraging those in the future.
There has been a whole new generation of Black Filmmakers worthy of recognition and support and numerous stars who have won Academy Awards and Emmy’s since our last Oscar Micheaux Awards Show in 1993. In addition, we never got the chance to honor many obviously deserving stars with induction into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame such as Eddie Murphy, Whoopie Goldberg, Diana Ross, Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Michael Jackson, Barry Gordy, and Opra Winfrey to name a few.____________________________________________________
DOUGLAS L. RAINEY CURATOR AND ARCHIVIST
Former Attorney, Vice President, Secretary, Chair Special Public Relations, and Publicity Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame, Incorporated