In 1916, most of Saint John’s Black community took part in protests over the showing of the controversial American movie "The Birth of a Nation," directed by D.W. Griffith. The film, based on the novel and play The Clansman by Southern writer Thomas Dixon, was released in 1915 and became the top grossing movie of its age.
The historical epic told the story of two families caught up in the turmoil of the American Civil War and the subsequent Reconstruction era (1865-77). Because of its negative depictions of African Americans and its portrayal of the Klu Klux Klan as heroes, "The Birth of a Nation" set off a wave of protests in the United States and was banned in some cities and states. It helped grow the membership and profile of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
The movie, which began playing in other provinces in 1915, was set to be released in New Brunswick in 1916, the third year of Canada's involvement in the First World War. As in other provinces, it would be reviewed by the provincial board of censors, which could pass it as is, order certain objectionable scenes to be cut, or censor it completely. Starting in March, the Black community in Saint John, centered on St. Philips African Methodist Episcopalian (AME) church, began to organize to oppose Griffith’s film. It argued that the movie would harm relations between Whites and Blacks and went against Canada’s traditions of British fair play. The protesters also pointed out that New Brunswick Blacks had attempted to volunteer for combat units to fight for Canada and Britain overseas but had been denied. They tried to negotiate with the provincial government to allow the censor board to view the film a second time and consider cutting two objectionable scenes that stereotyped and demeaned Southern Blacks. The board watched the film a second time but "The Birth of a Nation" was displayed at the Opera House on Union Street without any scenes being deleted. (Image of St. Philips AME Church courtesy of Harold Wright )
I also learned that the archives is the owner of the photo of the St. Philips A.M.E. Church.
I recently visited the NB archives in Saint John and saw the Honor Roll. The picture I originally downloaded is fine, but it doesn't really capture how beautiful the document is in person.
Just sent a response to your personal email.
You are more than welcome. :-)
Thank you for providing the list of names
Names appearing on the THE GREAT WORLD WAR ST. PHILIP'S AME CHURCH ROLL OF HONOR CHAS SIMPSON 931325 CHAS MCINTYRE 931102 GEO. STEWART 931322 ELIJAH TYLER 201111 HERBERT NICHOLS 931115 FRED LEPEE 931146 GEO. ALBERT 931144 ROY HAYES 931118 ERNEST BUSHFAN 931149 ROBT. BUSHFAN 931156 PHILIP BUSHFAN 931327 EARNEST TREADWELL 70204 SEYMOUR TYLER 931329 WALTER HAYES 931148 JACK BLIZZARD 931147 HAROLD BUSHFAN 931103 JAMES WILLIAMS 121552 THOMAS YOUNG 445266 LEWIS AUSTIN 931110 FRED KENNEDY ------ JAMES HOLMES 931113 PERCY RICHARDS 931114 GEO. DIXON 931354 HARRY JONES 931323 ALBERT CARTY 931238 HAROLD MCCARTY 931328 ROBERT DESMOND 931112 PERCY THOMAS 297495 JAMES SADLIER ------ WILLIAM RICHARDS 931329 GLADSTONE GIBSON ------ Created by W. Rhoi Spensyr Saint John, New Brunswick (1918)
Attention researchers... a Roll of Honour for the former St. Philip's African Methodist Episcopla Church was created by W. Rhoi Spensyr (hand-drawn and painted). When the New Brunswick Museum Archives & Research Library is open, researchers can view the document, although it is in fragile condition. Attached is an article about a concert in the Saint John Standard on January 25, 1918 at which Rhoi Spensyr played violin solo.