‘Nature, Family, Work, Spirituality’: The Home Movies of Ernest Beane

Ernest Beane was a Pullman porter who must have really, really loved making home movies; a collection of his films – housed at the African American Museum & Library at Oakland – is a wonderful and wide ranging testament to black middle class life in the 1930s and 40s.

Last year’s Home Movie Day at the Oakland Museum of California saw Beane’s movies screened and accompanied by an original jazz score by the Marcus Shelby Orchestra.  Recently, the National Film Preservation Board gave the AAMLO a grant to preserve the collection.

From what others have to say about the movies:

The footage is a rare glimpse into the daily pleasures of an upwardly mobile African American family in the 1930s and ’40s. Nothing escapes Beane’s camera, from backyard barbecues to joking co-workers at the train station, all dressed in the dapper styles of the time–seamed stockings, fedoras, and spit-polish shoes.

The Oakland Standard

It stuck out cause this is a time period where you don’t see a lot of that in images or video of black families in the 40s.  Most pictures and images are burned in our brains that they were oppressed by segregation and didn’t have these type of lifestyles – that there was no sense of leisure, no sense of family vacation…Imagine the impact that that can have on the psyche of this generation, who’s been told that this doesn’t exist

– Marcus Shelby

And here, a look back at last year’s Home Movie Day at the Oakland Museum of California:

About BFC/A

The Black Film Center/Archive at Indiana University was established in 1981 as the first archival repository dedicated to collecting, preserving, and making available historically and culturally significant films by and about black people. The BFC/A's primary objectives are to promote scholarship on black film and to serve as an open resource for scholars, researchers, students, and the general public; to encourage creative film activity by independent black filmmakers; and to undertake and support research on the history, impact, theory, and aesthetics of black film traditions. View all posts by BFC/A

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