From Blackface to Blaxploitation: Representations of African Americans in Film

1960s

The Learning Tree, 1969

The Learning Tree, 1969

The 1960s were marked by a greater push back against the racial status quo, greater cast integration, and greater engagement with the meanings of race in the U.S. (A remarkable example of the engagement with race is Change of Mind, 1969, in which a White man’s brain is transplanted into a Black man’s body). Films in the 1960s began to incorporate more character development in Black roles and greater family involvement. This decade also saw the first feature film from a major studio both written and directed by an African American (The Learning Tree, 1969, a coming-of-age story of a Black teenager in the 1920s).