When filmmaker D.W. Griffith released Birth of a Nation in 1915, the revolutionary film changed the way America thought about the movies and in many respects launched the modern film industry. But lesser known is the role Birth of a Nation had in the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan.
Listen to the Birth of a Nation episode of Southern Hollows:
Now that you've heard the episode, take a closer look.
Birth of a Nation (theatrical release poster above) was America's first film blockbuster.
That's filmmaker D.W. Griffith on the left in the hat. He's talking to the actor Henry Walthall, who stars as Confederate Colonel Ben Cameron in the film. It's believed this photograph was snapped on the set of Birth of a Nation.
Scenes from the film (above) include the title card quoting President Wilson and the lynching of the character Gus.
Watch Birth of a Nation for yourself:
Again, a word of warning—it's unwatchably racist:
The Klan is revived.
And, under the cover of night, Memphis removes its monument honoring Nathan Bedford Forrest.
Read about how the city's leadership unfolded a novel plan to remove the statue in The Atlantic.
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