Film creator, Anthony Brogdon showed his documentary film, “Business in the Black: The Rise of Black Business in America, 1800 -1960’s,” on Thursday, June 22nd at the Women’s Club of Hollywood. The documentary interviews people from Detroit whose families owned or still own Black businesses in the area. Some early business owners opened barber schools, cemeteries, hospitals and law firms.
“We talk so much about segregation killing the community so I stopped the film at the 60’s. I didn’t want to talk about anything bad. I just wanted to end the film on a positive note.” Brogdon said.
The film covers a range of topics like how former slaves went to college, how racists attempted to destroy Black businesses and exposed Black business millionaires by publically listing their names.
The small crowd of about 20 were blown away by the facts in the movie. Viewers remained after the film for a short Q&A and expressed their gratitude to Brogdon. They thanked him for shedding the light on some of the positive contributions African Americans given to this country. Many viewers saw similarities in how Blacks were treated then and today.
“I was born in 1962 … which is after the highway build, in Detroit. My father bought an apartment building in Black Bottom (A Black Neighborhood in Detroit). They ran a highway right through the middle of the neighborhood, splitting the Black community in two. This made it more difficult for one side to have access to businesses and hospitals. So the community just died because there were no businesses there.” the viewer said.
“It reminds me of the city of Santa Monica here, in Los Angeles. Santa Monica used to be an all Black neighborhood. Then they ran the Santa Monica freeway right through it, which shows that this was happening all over the country.” He added.
The film also spoke about Black representation. Brogdon shows how laws affecting the Black community were passed, due to a low African American turnout in town hall meetings.
“From city-to-city, I covered City Hall and planning meetings; I would often be the only Black person there. Sometimes I would slip out and contact the local NAACP president to get more people of color down to the meetings. I really think there needs to be someone from our community to go to these meetings because we are not represented. They are making decisions in our neighborhoods without us knowing, then we have to live with their decisions,” viewer Carroll Long said.
Brogdon’s film premiered in Detroit in May (of this year?) at the historic Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. It was later shown in New York before making its final stop in Los Angeles.
This is Brogdon’s second film. His first film, “The Great Detroit,” takes a look at the city of Detroit’s history and scenery. He says he created this film because he thought the city [of Detroit] was getting a bad rap.
“Business in the Black” will be available to stream on Amazon July 1, 2017. The DVD is available for purchase at www.businessintheblack.net.