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
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
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.