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For this paper, I argue how African-American women in the 1950s, and 1960s broke barriers for the African-American women today. And how these strong African-American women have won awards for their portrayals of the stereotypical roles. The stereotypical roles that African-American women are portrayed playing are the roles of jezebels, drug addicts, sex symbols, and maids. I want to show how the African-American women in film, from the 1950s, 1960s, and Today have played stereotypical roles like in the movie The Help (2011), and win awards for stereotypical roles. The women in that film played the role of maids in the movie, which is personified as the role of “Mamie” from Gone with the Wind (1939).

African-American women have come a long way in film since the 1950s and 1960s. Many African-American women in the 1950s and 1960s, like Cicely Tyson, and Nichelle Nichols have all pathed a way for African-American women in film today, but have also struggled to make a name for themselves. Nichelle Nichols was the first African-American to be involved in an interracial kiss on television in the 1960s with William Shatner. Nichols played an empowering role on Star Trek as Lieutenant Uhura. Nichols was in a position of power on the show, which was unusual for African-American women in 1960s. According to the Huffington Post Nichelle Nichols comments on her empowering role saying: “There were parts of the South that wouldn’t show ‘Star Trek’ because there was an African-American woman in a powerful position, and she wasn’t a maid or tap dancer.”

Today, many African-American women are celebrated for playing stereotypical roles and none-stereotypical roles. These women that play the stereotypical roles win awards for their performance. It’s important to shed light on this tradition in cinema today since so many African-American women are role models for future generations.


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  • Subject
    • English

  • Institution
    • Dahlonega

  • Event date
    • 24 March 2017

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022