The Second World War helped to heighten racial consciousness as pressure developed within American society to rectify racial inequalities. The government and the movie industry collaborated on black wartime tribute films; the "New Negro" began making his way to the screen in Hollywood productions like the movie adaptation of Ellen Glasgow's In This Our Life; and postwar agreements between the studios and the NAACP forced Hollywood to reconsider some of its more blatant stereotyping. The racial and social message films of the postwar period, particularly the crucial 1949 cycle of films that included Pinky and Intruder in the Dust, helped to liberalize black racial imagery. These "problem pictures" also paved the way for another new black character type, the integrationist hero played by Sidney Poitier, who for almost two decades would dominate Hollywood mainstream cinema. But as the Eisenhower era gave rise to the age of black power, other types appeared: the emerging militant in A Raisin in the Sun and Dutchman; the sensitive young protagonist coming of age in The Learning Tree, Sounder, and Go Tell It on the Mountain; the self-confident action hero in Cotton Comes to Harlem and other "blaxploitation" movies such as Shaft.


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