Gone With Wind Protest: 1940
Protests greeted the openings of the film “Gone With the Wind” at theaters in major cities across the country in 1940 due to its portrayal of African Americans as passive and supportive of the slave system that existed in the South until the end of the Civil War in 1865.

The images in this set show pickets at the Lincoln Theater at 1215 U Street NW in March 1940. The D.C. protests were organized by the National Negro Congress, a broad coalition based in the working class that employed more aggressive tactics than the older NAACP.

The pickets provoked controversy because Hattie McDaniel’s role was one of the largest roles in major Hollywood production at that time and her performance was viewed by a number of critics as groundbreaking. McDaniel won an Oscar for the performance as Best Supporting Actress.

Protesters likened the film to “Birth of a Nation,” an early film that broke new ground in cinema and was praised by critics while glorifying the Ku Klux Klan.
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