On September 25, Historic Columbia is pleased to host a members’ only reception for Dick Lehr at the Woodrow Wilson Family Home. Lehr’s book, The Birth of a Nation: How a Legendary Filmmaker and Crusading Editor Reignited America’s Civil War, is an outstanding counter-history of the reaction and impact of one of early cinema’s most famous films.
Attendees will be invited to tour the Wilson Home to better understand the connection between the 28th president and the incendiary film. The author will sign books, which will be available for purchase on site. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm your attendance.
In addition to the September 25 event, Historic Columbia and the History Center at USC are co-sponsoring a public talk on the book, with film clips from The Birth of a Nation, at the Nickelodeon Theater on September 26 at 7 p.m. This is a free event, but there is limited seating and reservations are required.
Woodrow Wilson and the Birth of a Nation
As a college professor, Woodrow Wilson wrote, “Reconstruction is still a revolutionary matter…..those who delve into it find it like a banked fire.” Reconstruction in South Carolina ended with the election of Wade Hampton as governor in 1876, just two years after Wilson, then known as Tommy, left his family home here in Columbia. Wilson still felt the heat of that “banked fire” in the White House, almost 40 years later. The first sitting president to view films in the White House, in 1915 Wilson viewed The Birth of a Nation, an epic silent film based on a book written by one of his college acquaintances. The Birth of a Nation, set in South Carolina with some scenes in Wilson’s former hometown of Columbia, offered a racist interpretation of the Civil War and Reconstruction.
While watching The Birth of a Nation, would Wilson have recalled his years in Columbia? What he thought of the film he did not say, leaving historians to interpret the event in a variety of ways. However, by his viewing it the movie’s producers capitalized on the White House connection, claiming the president endorsed it.
Today, the Woodrow Wilson Family Home, operated by Historic Columbia, is a physical connection to Reconstruction and a window into how this era has been represented historically and how it is remembered to today. It also allows 21st century visitors to ask important questions about how Reconstruction shaped a boy who would be president. Visit historiccolumbia.org for information on taking a house tour of the Woodrow Wilson Family Home.
More on Mr. Lehr’s book The Birth of a Nation: How a Legendary Filmmaker and Crusading Editor Reignited America’s Civil War
In 1915, two men-one a journalist agitator, the other a technically brilliant filmmaker-incited a public confrontation that roiled America, pitting black against white, Hollywood against Boston, and free speech against civil rights. William Monroe Trotter and D. W. Griffith were fighting over a film that dramatized the Civil War and Reconstruction in a post-Confederate South. Almost fifty years earlier, Monroe’s father, James, was a sergeant in an all-black Union regiment that marched into Charleston, South Carolina, just as the Kentucky cavalry-including “Roaring Jake” Griffith, D. W.’s father-fled for their lives. Griffith’s film, The Birth of a Nation, included actors in blackface, heroic portraits of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and a depiction of Lincoln’s assassination. Freed slaves were portrayed as villainous, vengeful, slovenly, and dangerous to the sanctity of American values. It was tremendously successful, eventually seen by 25 million Americans. But violent protests against the film flared up across the country.
Monroe Trotter’s titanic crusade to have the film censored became a blueprint for dissent during the 1950s and 1960s. This is the fiery story of a revolutionary moment for mass media and the nascent civil rights movement, and the men clashing over the cultural and political soul of a still-young America standing at the cusp of its greatest days.
“D. W. Griffiths’ 1915 film, The Birth of a Nation, may have been billed as the ‘Most Wonderful Motion Picture Ever,’ but to African Americans of the Jim Crow era, it was a grotesque reminder of how invisible their true lives-their history and their dreams-were across the color line. Speaking out against the white-hooded nostalgia the film inflamed, William Monroe Trotter, Harvard’s first black Phi Beta Kappa graduate and a leading newspaper editor, revived a protest tradition that would set the stage for the civil rights movement to follow. Distinguished journalist Dick Lehr’s account of this racial debate is not only enthralling to read; it reminds us of the singular importance of ‘the birth of’ Monroe Trotter.”
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University
CLICK HERE to become a member of Historic Columbia and enjoy the opportunity to attend events like these in the future!
With our holiday events, sales and tours, now is a great time to join Historic Columbia—and we’re making it even better! From December 1 to 8, we’re discounting our Individual and Family level memberships.
Individual membership – usually $35, now just $28!
To join online at these discounted rates, visit historiccolumbia.org and use the promo code HOLIDAY20. Join by phone at 803.252.7742 x 15 or download the membership form and mail it in with payment. Membership applications must be postmarked by December 8 to receive this special discount. Questions? Contact us at email@example.com or 803.252.7742 x 15.
Thank you to everyone who came out to celebrate with us on November 9 at our 50th Birthday Celebration! The event raised $50,000 for Historic Columbia Foundation to continue our mission to nurture, support and protect the historical and cultural heritage of Columbia and its environs through programs of advocacy, education and preservation. Thank you for a wonderful 50 years, and here’s to 50 more!
Check out the party pics! HCF has posted all of the photos from the party on Facebook here and here. Tag, comment and “like” away!
Did you take photos too? We would love to see them. Post your party pics on our Facebook wall or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are not already a HCF member we encourage you to join today. Be part of an organization committed to preserving the past and promoting avenues to a positive future. Membership benefits include discounted prices, early notification for specialty events, unlimited FREE house tours – including our Holiday Tours, discounts in our Gift Shop and much more.
Join HCF today to ensure that the history of our region is preserved and protected for generations to come. If you have questions about membership click here, email email@example.com or call 803.252.7742 x 12.
Historic Columbia Foundation is also accepting donations to our 50th Anniversary Fund through the end of 2012 – make your contribution here!
Miss the party? Or ready for the next great event? HCF hosts a variety of programs and events for all ages all year long! Join us for one of our other upcoming events. Raise a glass to HCF at our upcoming Chili Cook-Off fund raiser on Saturday, February 23, and continue to help raise funds for our next 50 years.
The South Carolina State Museum is offering a special discount to Historic Columbia Foundation Members this July! Get out of the famously hot summer heat and enjoy the new Titanic Exhibition this month with a special $3 off coupon. Be prepared to show your Membership Card when redeeming this discount.
As you enter this feature exhibit, take on the identity of a real life first, second or third class passenger. Learn where they are from, where they are going and why they boarded the Titanic. At the end of the exhibit, find out if you survived the tragedy known as one of the greatest disasters in modern memory. The exhibit, open until September 16, features close to 200 artifacts and a “real-life” iceberg. Learn all about passenger life onboard the ship, read the many ice warnings the Titanic received (and ignored), and find out why they say “the Titanic was boomed from the beginning”.
Learn more about becoming a member of Historic Columbia Foundation here. Memberships start at just $35 and include free admission to our historic house museums, special discounts on programs and events and more!
Big thanks to the SC State Museum for extending this special discount to Historic Columbia Foundation Members! Learn more about the South Carolina State Museum on their website, Facebook Page and Twitter Feed.
Thank you for helping us reach our goal! We surpassed our milestone of 1,000 members and we couldn’t have done it without you. The lucky winners are…David and Janine Lewis. We are thrilled to welcome Mr. and Mrs. Lewis as well as all of our new members to Historic Columbia Foundation and we thank each and every one of you for your support.
Haven’t joined yet? We welcome new members all year long and would be delighted to have you as part of our family. Your membership helps protect the historical and cultural heritage of Columbia and Richland County for years to come. Make a difference today and become a member during Historic Columbia Foundation’s 50th Anniversary year.
Join online (or gift a membership to a friend or family member) or download our print-friendly membership form here.
Benefits of HCF Membership:
HCF members enjoy free tours (year-round) of our historic house museums,
A complimentary subscription to our quarterly Historically Speaking newsletter,
Discounted pricing to HCF events,
Exclusive member-only events,
Museum Shop discounts and more!
Your membership helps to protect the historical and cultural heritage of Columbia and Richland County for years to come. Membership dues start at just $35. Learn more…
Here at Historic Columbia Foundation, we’re this close to reaching an important milestone…our 1,000th member! The timing couldn’t be sweeter, with this being our 50th Anniversary year, and with Valentine’s Day just around the corner.
Our many accomplishments over the last 50 years would not have been made possible without the support of our great members. We’re asking for your help in reaching our 1,000th member, and there’s something special in it for you, too!
Help us reach our 1,000th member by joining Historic Columbia Foundation or sponsoring the membership dues of a friend. Lucky member number 1,000 (or his/her sponsor) will receive a special goodie basket from our Museum Shop, customized with $50 worth of store products of his or her choosing. Select from candles, books, jewelry, beer pilsners, palmetto items, kitchen items, jams, jellies, you-name-it. We’re also throwing in TWO tickets to our upcoming Chili Cook-Off (a $60 value), to enjoy with your sweetheart or a friend.
Join HCF: Join online (or gift a membership to a friend or family member) or download our print-friendly membership form here.
Benefits of HCF Membership:
HCF members enjoy free tours (year-round) of our historic house museums, a subscription to our quarterly Historically Speaking newsletter, guest passes, discounted pricing to HCF events, museum shop discounts and more! Your membership helps to protect the historical and cultural heritage of Columbia and Richland County for years to come. Memberships dues start at just $35. Learn more…