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This was the earliest known African-American kiss captured on film in 1898

December 14, 2018 at 11:00 am | News

Nduta Waweru

Nduta Waweru | Contributor

December 14, 2018 at 11:00 am | News

Photo: the USC School of Cinematic Arts

In history, the first ever interracial kiss on film created so much controversy for its significance at a time when Jim Crow law still thrived. It was captured in 1963 in a Star Trek film a year after the Supreme Court struck down laws against interracial marriages. 

But did you know that one of the earliest depiction of African American affection in film was captured in 1898?

The silent film titled, Something Good-Negro Kiss,  was discovered by 
scholars at the University of Chicago and the University of Southern California.  

In the film,  a man dressed in a suit and bowtie and a woman in a frilled dress are captured in a simple embrace. “They hug, kiss, swing wide their clasped hands, and kiss again.”

Now the 29-second film has been added to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry, together with 24 other films for their enduring importance to American culture. 

“What makes this film so remarkable is the non-caricatured representation and naturalistic performance of the couple. As they playfully and repeatedly kiss, in a seemingly improvised performance, Suttle and Brown constitute a significant counter to the racist portrayal of African Americans otherwise seen in the cinema of its time. This film stands as a moving and powerful image of genuine affection, and is a landmark of early film history,”  said Dr. Allyson Nadia Field of the University of Chicago, one of the scholars who helped identify the film, which was discovered by  USC archivist Dino Everett.

With this discovery, many people are hoping this film and many others lost in archive and storage units would prompt the society to reevaluate their view of the time the film was produced.

Watch it below. 

SOMETHING GOOD NEGRO KISS 1898 RESTORED from HMH Archive on Vimeo.

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