BHERC - Mission

In 1996, the Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center was founded to remove the veil of invisibility that shrouds African Americans and other minority groups from the main stage, and to spotlight diversity and the stellar contributions of black film and television artists who brought dignity and professionalism to even the most menial of roles.

The Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center, a nonprofit, public benefit organization, is designed to advocate, educate, research, develop, and preserve the history, and the future, of blacks in the film and television industries.

The BHERC strives to highlight the important roles that blacks have played, and continue to play, in film and television. To that end, the BHERC annually celebrates and promotes black history and culture through a series of annual film festivals that recognize black film and television pioneers through showcasing historic films. Names that should be legend in the history of American filmmaking - Oscar Micheaux, Spencer Williams, Ethel Waters, Jeni LeGon, Paul Robeson, and many more - are too often unknown, even in the African American community.

The festivals also showcase the richness and power of young filmmakers
who will lead the struggle for positive and quality black films in the new Millennium. Because so much of our filmmaking history has not been documented, the BHERC is committed to documenting the existence of a major black film industry that served black audiences in the shadow of the Hollywood Dream Machine. The BHERC has assembled a photo library and collection of Black Hollywood memorabilia verifying the history of blacks in the entertainment industry.

The Center's commitment to the development of future filmmakers - performers, directors, and behind-the-scenes technicians and workers - is realized not only through film festivals but also through innovative educational programs. The Center annually sponsors Artistry in Motion, a seminar led by industry professionals who introduce middle and high school students to the magical world of animation, and workshops that offer inside information about the film and television industries. Since its founding, the Center's scholarship projects have awarded more than $500,000 in equipment, in-kind services and resources to deserving film students and independent filmmakers.

With the understanding that the box office is critical in determining the fate of new films, the Center founded the First Weekend Club, in March 1997, as a financial advocate for films by and featuring the talents of African-American men and women - in front of and behind the cameras. The First Weekend Club boasts more than 35,000 members nationwide.

The Center's community outreach programs are extensive. In 1998, the Center established the Port Chicago Survivor's Support Committee to spearhead a nationwide campaign to have mutiny charges expunged from the military records of heroic black servicemen who became infamous in 1944 as the Port Chicago Mutineers. Due to the Center's efforts the World War II veterans are now celebrated as the Port Chicago Survivors, heroes who survived the nation's worst domestic military disaster during that war.

In the New Millennium, California will be the Mecca of the entertainment industry. The BHERC is committed to ensuring that black men and women play integral roles in that industry, and that the rich African-American heritage is prominently included in the sagas documenting American history and culture. And, we dedicate our energies and resources to the support of young black filmmakers today so that they might better prepare a meaningful future for us all.

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