The Africana West in Film and Television
The American West(s) in Film and History Conference
Kansas City, Missouri
The Kansas City Marriott, Country Club Plaza
November 7 – 10, 2002

Please join The American West(s) in Film and History Conference meeting in
Kansas City, MO and consider giving a (multimedia or other) presentation or
panel on The Black / Africana West in film, television and music.
Papers and proposed panel sessions are welcome for discussion topics that
include but are not limited to the following:
Which movies, what television shows and what musical selections depict
Africana characters as contributors to Western History and which ones follow
the traditional canon, rendering them a footnote?
What did you think about the Black father/son team in PBS’s Frontier House?
Did they get their just due or were the unique experiences of African
Americans in the West minimized in this series? Did the interracial marriage
affect the telling of the Africana tradition or was it yet another chapter in
African American history in the West?
Is Herbert Jeffries the first great Black cowboy star or overrated jazz
singer tossed into film?
Is "Blazing Saddles" a Black Western (even though Mel Brooks is Jewish)?

Is Mario Van Peebles production of "Posse" fact, fiction or just another
Hollywood formula Western fantasy?

Why is James Beckwourth depicted as a White man in the movie, "Tomahawk?" and
what role does this kind of reverse "passing" and exclusion employ for White
American psychology?

Does Mantan Moreland's presence in early Black Westerns undermine or
otherwise denigrate them? Or does his satire add necessary folk humor?

What were the successes and failures of the 1972 production of "Buck and the

How did the production of The Negro Cowboys by Philip Durham and Everett
Jones (1965) contribute to the growing presence of Black cowboys in Western

Clint Eastwood as "Dirty Harry" is to "The Man with No Name" what Richard
Roundtree in "Shaft" is to . . . ? (fill in the blank or create your own)

What have you discovered about the life of Woody Strode and his depiction in
John Ford's "Sergeant Rutledge?"

What is the role of comedy in the Black West, as depicted by actors such as
Sinbad in the film, "The Cherokee Kid?"

And speaking of Cherokees and kids, where are the Black Indian stories? How
are they depicted in film, music or television?

Was the film, Buffalo Soldiers, a disastrous insult to the loyalty of
African American soldiers on the Western frontier or a humanizing,
compassionate account of the complexities of Black and Native histories?

The Hip Hop West
What is a "Ghetto Cowboy?"
How has the meaning of "Posse" changed? Is it still cool to be an outlaw if
you're Black? Or are you an outlaw, automatically, if you're Black? When
N.W.A. sang "F*ck the Police," was that an appropriate Western trope or the
utterances of a menace to society?

The West in the Civil Rights Movement?
The West in the Black Power Movement?
Depictions of Black Panthers as New Age Cowboys and Girls?

Black Women in the West
Are Ruby Dee and Dawnn Lewis (stellar though they are) the extent of the
vision of Black women in the West?

Feel free to develop more ideas on your own. Based on the contributions, the
panels and presentations will be organized accordingly. Independent scholars
are welcome!

Email is preferable. Send all individual papers (no more than 400 words) and
panel proposals (no more than 1000 words) with a short biographical
paragraph and/or resume/vitae by September 15, 2002 to the AREA CHAIR:

Dr. Kimberly C. Ellis
204 Emison Art Center
Greencastle, IN  46135
(765) 658-6098

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