BANNED IN THE SOUTH: HOLLYWOOD, CENSORSHIP, AND DEPICTIONS OF RACE
MGM star Lena Horne famously recounted how her movie appearances would often be filmed as stand-alone musical numbers, making it easier for her on-screen contributions to be removed by exhibitors in the American South – just one example of the widespread censorship that Black performers faced in Hollywood. In this engaging conversation, actress, writer, and singer Shari Belafonte and historian David Pierce from the Library of Congress discuss the race-based censorship of Hollywood movies released throughout the South in the 1930s and ‘40s.
They review the roles played by movie studios, the Hays Office, the Production Code Administration, state and municipal censor boards, local exhibitors, and theater audiences in limiting the reach of Black film artists and facilitating the censorship of their performances in some areas of the South. Ms. Belafonte guides the presentation, reflecting on the treatment of minority actors and audiences during this period while adding vitality and spontaneity to the topic.