In the late 1490s, Europe began an aggressive campaign of expansion to pilfer the world of its lands and riches by any means necessary. Just 40 years before, Constantinople had fallen, and the world was in a free fall for power, money and land. Ruthless monarchies and businessmen were in a race for the next big thing. Finding new routes to the east from the west and the accumulation of land became paramount. Christopher Columbus, a mariner, chief amongst these power-hungry individuals, convinced his King and his Queen to finance his first trip to seek new westward passages to the Orient in 1492. By 1498, Columbus would make three voyages across the high seas as the father of unforgettable atrocities; the state sponsored genocide of indigenous people and the efficient execution of the modern-day slave trade.
The Lincoln Motion Picture Company | A Tribute to Excellence in Race Cinema celebrates the ingenuity of African-Americans and their indelible footprint in early 20th century filmmaking. As a direct response to the misrepresentation and sometimes-grotesque depiction of African-American men and women, The Lincoln Motion Picture Company was formed on May 24, 1916 (Omaha, NE) and later incorporated in January of 1917 (Los Angeles, CA).
As seen through the eyes of George P. Johnson, the general booking manager and secretary for the company and Nathaniel “Magnificent” Montague, the catalyst behind the excellence behind the story, this exhibition researches the acknowledgement of the term “race” across a contemporary presentation of visuals from a broad and eclectic perspective. It includes photographic stills from the works of the founders and features a centerpiece that attempts to provide a look into a day in time without detracting from the landscape that the Lincoln Motion Picture Company provided for African-Americans in the early 1910s and 1920s. With the help of the family of Clarence Brooks, George P. Johnson, the brother Noble Johnson, the founder of the Lincoln Motion Picture Company, collaborated with Nathaniel “Magnificent” Montague in putting together an extensive collection of photographs, articles, newspaper clippings, advertisements, telegrams, invoices, receipts and other authentic documents prior to his death. This scrapbook proved to be monumental in the overall organization of this “living exhibition”.
The Lincoln Motion Picture Company | A Tribute to Excellence in Race Cinema is organized by The Montague Collection with the Meek-Eaton Black Archives & Museum.
In addition to Nathaniel “Magnificent” Montague, Clarence Brooks and George P. Johnson, we would like to express our appreciation to Henry T. Sampson (prolific inventor, film historian and nuclear engineering pioneer) and his wife, Laura Howzell Young-Sampson (Associate Professor in the College of Education, California State University, San Bernardino), for their contributions as one of the primary sources for the synopses for the five feature films of The Lincoln Motion Picture Company. Henry T. Sampson’s book, Blacks in Black and White: A Source Book on Black Films, was an invaluable source of information in putting together this exhibit. Numerous newspaper clippings were also used in developing the synopsis for each film. As the exhibit continues its metamorphosis it will be updated to include references to other newspaper clippings that have contributed to the development of this exhibit. We would like to express our appreciation to UCLA for granting access to the George P. Johnson Collection maintained in the UCLA Special Collections, UCLA Research Library. Our thanks also go to the David M. Rubenstein Rare Books & Manuscript Library at Duke University for providing a photo image of the “The Law of Nature” feature film poster from their collection.
The Montague Collection
The Montague Collection speaks to over 400 years of the black experience in America. It is extensive and unparalleled in historic content and academic value. Thousands of books, periodicals, slave documents, pamphlets, newspapers and ephemera recording the historical, cultural and inspirational experience of the “race” throughout the world exemplify the special value of the Montague Collection. Nathaniel “Magnificent” Montague, the architect of these artifacts, is a pioneer in the world of collectibles and is personally responsible for the collection’s efficacy and reach to the African-American community for over 40 years.
The Montague Contemporary is a collaborative effort in conjunction with the Meek-Eaton Black Archives and Museum and the Montague Collection. It is an effort to provide unique and historical African-American programming and exhibitions with a contemporary look and feel to reintroduce African-American history to the public.