Chapman Film School Removes ‘Birth of Nation’ Poster After Protests

The Associated Press
Bebeto Matthews/AP

Chapman University’s film school removed an original poster from the film The Birth of a Nation from the film school building after a protest by students.

According to a report from the Hollywood Reporter, students at Chapman University’s film school were successful in a recent bid to convince to administration to take down an original poster from the controversial 1915 film  The Birth of a Nation.

A petition that received over 60 signatures, students argued that the poster acts as a “commemoration” of the film, which celebrates lynching and portrays the Ku Klux Klan as heroic.

D.W. Griffith’s “The Birth of a Nation” is a 1915 film that depicts black people as aggressive, unintelligent subhumans. It celebrates lynching and glamorizes the Ku Klux Klan. It is a racist incitement to violence against African Americans. While it is important to remember the historical events surrounding this film, we don’t need a poster to do that.

The group of students working to remove the poster and its accompanying advertisement from the hallway of Chapman’s Marion Knott Studios believe these artifacts are racist, irrelevant and misplaced. Our call for their removal is not a “desire to remove something whose presence contributes to our collective education,” as President Daniele Struppa wrote in his April 10 column. It is a call to remove a symbol of hate from a place of honor in our halls. That is not censorship. That does not “take away an opportunity for students to confront a problematic past.”

The student protesters go on to argue in the petition that the film is worth studying in the classroom. They draw the line, however, at placing the poster next to the posters of other great films. To them, this implies that the film is worth celebrating.

The faculty ultimately voted to remove two The Birth of Nation posters last week. The posters will be returned to their donor.

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