From Blackface to Blaxploitation: Representations of African Americans in Film

Lincoln Motion Picture Company

In May 1916, the Lincoln Motion Picture Company was the first movie company to be organized by Black filmmakers. The company’s officers included actors Noble Johnson (president) and Clarence A. Brooks (secretary) as well as wealthy druggist Dr. James T. Smith (treasurer), Dudley A. Brooks (assistant secretary) and George Johnson who handled operations and publicity for the films. The Realization of a Negro’s Ambition (1916) was the first Lincoln production and is centered on a young engineering graduate of the Tuskegee Institute who leaves home to seek employment in the oil fields of California. By 1920, the Lincoln Motion Picture Company successfully completed five films and continued to consider other projects. By Right of Birth, the six-reel drama released in 1921, would be the Lincoln Company’s last production. Although the films and the company’s efforts were highly praised, the overall commercial appeal to broader audiences was non-existent at the time and the company soon failed.