Chapman University Film School Removes 'Birth of a Nation' Posters After Student Protests
A group of impassioned students have successfully pressured the faculty of Chapman University's film school to remove two original posters promoting D.W. Griffith's 1915 epic ‘The Birth of a Nation’ from the school's production building in Orange, California.
The decision was announced in an email from Dodge College of Film and Media Arts dean Robert Bassett yesterday afternoon. "By vote of the faculty today Dodge College will be removing the two posters related to The Birth of a Nation (1915) and returning them to the donor," Bassett wrote. "However, the faculty will continue to screen the film in appropriate classes, as well as explore ways outside of class to discuss race and other related issues."
Students witnessed the posters being taken down from the wall on the first floor of Marion Knott Studios, a 76,000-square-foot replica of a film studio where students have access to a Foley stage, 36 editing suites and a theater that seats 500, among other resources.
They were generously donated by Cecil B. DeMille's granddaughter and Chapman trustee Cecilia DeMille Presley as part of a large gift of movie art and posters to the university, which is considered one of the ten best in the country. The ’Birth of a Nation’ posters included a red, white and blue-colored promotion of the movie for Ford's Theatre and a newspaper ad from Elks Theatre that touts the film as "D.W. Griffith's Stupendous Dramatic Spectacle."
In addition to the collection of several hundred pieces of movie art and posters, the Cecil B. DeMille foundation donated $500,000 in 1997 to the film and television school at the behest of Cecilia and DeMille grandson Joseph Harper, which at the time represented the single largest endowment the film school had received.