Black Memorabilia


Saturday, Nov. 10 at 6:30pm
Missouri History Museum

Black memorabilia continues to exert a problematic appeal, especially the putatively kitschy but undeniably offensive items that indulge in the most egregious kinds of racial stereotyping — what director Chico Colvard (“Family Affair,” SLIFF 2010) describes as “the ‘cheerful designs’ of the zip coon, mammy, buck, sambo, pickaninny, and blackface characters portrayed in subservient roles and mocking caricatures.” The film approaches the subject obliquely and impressionistically, starting with a prologue that introduces the topic from a personal perspective and then offering a trio of profiles: of a Chinese woman who helps manufacture reproductions of the cast-iron “Jolly Nigger Bank” of the Jim Crow era; of a white Southern antique dealer who sells Confederate and Ku Klux Klan memorabilia, which she regards as artifacts of black history; and of an African-American artist, Alexandria Smith, who attempts to reclaim and repurpose racist imagery such as blackface in her own work. A work of subtlety and sophistication, “Black Memorabilia” consistently complicates the audience’s views of the three principal subjects, especially the antique dealer, and makes fascinating use of a video for the song “Fatty Boom Boom” by white South African rappers Die Antwoord, which features the provocative use of blackface.

54 min.
Chinese & English

Directed by

Chico Colvard


China U.S.

Film Category

Asian Focus Chinese Spotlight International Spotlight Leon & Mary Strauss Documentary Spotlight Race in America: The Black Experience


With a post-film discussion led by D.B. Dowd, professor of Art and American Culture Studies at Washington University, and Vernon C. Mitchell Jr., curator of Popular American Arts and Culture at Washington University Libraries.

Sponsored by

the Visual and Material Culture Initiative of the American Culture Studies (AMCS) Program at Washington University

Shown with

Like Dolls, I'll Rise

Like Dolls, I'll Rise

Nora Philippe

Combining images of 200 one-of-a-kind black dolls and words by famous women such as Sojourner Truth and Maya Angelou, the film tells the stories of black women from America’s enslaved and segregated past.

28 min.