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About Oscar Micheaux:
Oscar Micheaux was born and raised in Murphysboro, in southern Illinois, the area known as "little Egypt." He was an intelligent, inquisitive, charismatic youngster and an avid book reader who did not finish high school. He honed his skills as a marketer of his father's farm produce which prepared him to be a phenomenal seller of his books and films later in his life.
Oscar became a Pullman Porter and travelled throughout the United States and into South America. He learned of government and opening for sale in South Dakota where he purchased 160 acres and took over a homestead near Gregory, SD in 1905. He learned how to become a successful farmer and eventually acquired 1,000 acres in Gregory and Tripp Counties. He learned how to become a successful writer. He wrote, published and marketed seven novels. His first book, Conquest, published in 1913, continues, today to be a definitive account of homesteading in South Dakota. In l917, Noble Johnson, an African American Hollywood actor and co-owner of a small film company in Omaha, Nebraska, offered to produce Oscar's third novel, The Homesteader, 1917, as a feature film if he, Noble, could play the major role of Micheaux and direct the film. Oscar decided to direct and produce his own film rather than let another film company or Hollywood produce his autobiographical film or any of his forthcoming 43 films.
In 1919, the three hour film, The Homesteader, was finished. Oscar went on to write, produce, direct and market over 40 full-length feature films: 22 silent and 22 soundies. Today, only 15 of his films have been found in the US, South America and Europe. These 15 films, in DVD format, are in the Micheaux Center in Gregory. Oscar Micheaux was the first African American to produce full-length feature films, first to produce a film in sound, the first to show his films in white theatres and to be shown on Broadway and to have marketed his own films. Oscar is known today as the "Father of Independent Filmmaking in the United States." Oscar's nine years in south-central South Dakota influenced his life, his books and films. He is revered by many filmmakers and actors. He was posthumously honored to a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the South Dakota Hall of Fame in Chamberlain, SD, the Oscar Micheaux Center in Gregory and in festivals throughout the world.
February 4, 2012Film