TSU Professor to Lead Discussion on Race and Film

HOUSTON, TX (Oct. 6, 2011) – Texas Southern University professor and noted historian Dr. Cary Wintz will lead a discussion of two historic films that helped to shape racism in American and German cultures in a free public lecture this fall at Holocaust Museum Houston.

 Dr. Cary Wintz

Dr. Cary Wintz

The Museum will present “Race and Film: Clips from Birth of a Nation and Jud Süss,” beginning at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011, in the Museum’s Albert and Ethel Herzstein Theater in the Morgan Family Center, 5401 Caroline St., in Houston’s Museum District. Admission is free, but seating is limited, and advance registration is requested. Visit www.hmh.org/RegisterEvent.aspx to RSVP online. For more information, call 713-942-8000, ext. 104 or e-mail events@hmh.org.

Custom and law are closely linked systems that affect how people act toward each other. In the post-Civil War United States and in Nazi Germany, the freedoms and rights of some groups of people were limited. African-Americans were the primary target under the U.S. system of Jim Crow Laws. Jewish people were the primary target under the Nuremberg Laws of Nazi Germany.

“Birth of a Nation,” directed by D.W. Griffith, was released in 1915. It is one of the most famous and controversial movies ever made in the United States. At the time, it was viewed as a technical marvel; crowds flocked to see it throughout the United States. Today, however, the film is most remembered for its racist portrayal of the period in American history after the Civil War known as Reconstruction.

“Jud Süss” is a 1940 film, produced by Terra Filmkunst, on behalf of the Nazi regime. It was conceived as an antisemitic propaganda film. The movie played on basic Nazi stereotypes of Jews having hooked noses and being materialistic, immoral, cunning, untrustworthy and physically unattractive.

These films were used to support the legal structures existing in both Nazi Germany and the United States. By using popular culture to continue the customs that existed in the societies, each country’s dominant group was able sustain the power structures that offered privilege to some and were detrimental to the “other” group.

Wintz is widely known as an academic historian and author who specializes in African-American History, especially the Harlem Renaissance, and racial and political ideology in the early 20th century. His most recent book, which was published in December 2006, is “Harlem Speaks: A Living History of the Harlem Renaissance.” He is the author or editor of more than a dozen other books.

Wintz received his bachelor’s degree in history from Rice University in 1965. He then went to Kansas for his graduate work, receiving a master’s in history and a doctorate in history from Kansas State University, where he studied under historian and biographer Stephen Ambrose. Wintz returned to Houston in 1971 to accept a position on the faculty of Texas Southern University. He currently is a professor in the Department of History, Geography and Economics.

Wintz is a member of the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, the Southern Historical Association and several other professional organizations. He is a member of Phi Alpha Theta Honorary Society, and received the Texas Southern University Distinguished Service Award (1988), the Advanced Placement Special Recognition Award (1993), and the Texas Southern University Research Scholar of the Year Award (1996).

He is currently working on a book with Bruce Glasrud which examines the African American pursuit of the White House, and a historical dictionary of the Harlem Renaissance. Wintz has presented more than 50 papers at professional meetings and has delivered numerous speeches and public addresses throughout the United States and abroad, and he has been interviewed frequently in the press, on radio, and on television.

The lecture is presented in conjunction with the Museum’s current exhibit “The Impact of Racist Ideologies: Jim Crow and the Nuremberg Laws,” which explores the effects of the Nuremberg Laws and the Jim Crow laws, using examples from Houston’s own segregationist past. The exhibit runs through July 22, 2012 in Holocaust Museum Houston’s Central Gallery. Admission is free.

This program is cosponsored by The Health Museum, and presented with special thanks to United Airlines, official airline of Holocaust Museum Houston.

Holocaust Museum Houston is dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, remembering the 6 million Jews and other innocent victims and honoring the survivors' legacy. Using the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides, the Museum teaches the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy.

For more information about the Museum, call 713-942-8000 or visit www.hmh.org.

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