From Blackface to Blaxploitation: Representations of African Americans in Film
The roles offered to African American actors in the 1930s and 1940s reflected the societal perceptions and limited occupational opportunities for African Americans at the time. The films The Littlest Rebel (1935), Show Boat (1936), and Gone with the Wind (1939) continued to show African Americans in roles as butlers, drivers, laborers, maids, and mammies. These films also continued to celebrate romanticized ideas of the “Old South” and of the devoted servant. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, these domestic worker roles begin to be represented in urban households and settings.