He broke barriers in cinema at the beginning of the 20th century long before the likes of Spike Lee and Tyler Perry received acclaim for their narratives on the black experience. Considered to be a pioneer in filmmaking, Micheaux created movies that challenged racial segregation at the time. Born near Metropolis, Illinois, in 1884, he moved to Chicago at age 17 and worked as a porter before moving to South Dakota to farm and write. In 1919, he produced the first full-length feature produced by an African American filmmaker. He is said to have written, produced and directed more than 40 films from 1919 to 1948 before his death in 1951.