Paul Robeson made forward strides in choosing roles that had honest portrayals of African American men through out the 30’s and 40’s. Most roles played by blacks at this time were that of servants or characters living under the sharecropper system. Paul Robeson
The character made a mockery of free blacks. An arrogant, ostentatious figure, he dressed in high style and spoke inappropriately. He also used puns that undermined his attempts to appear dignified.
Mammy The character is defined as a source of earthy wisdom who is fiercely independent and brooks no backtalk. Although her image has changed a little over the years, the stereotype lives on. Her face can still be found on pancake boxes today.
In the 70’s, Blacksploitation movies would be the dominant source of African American Films. Despite the desire to have people of color in leading roles the stereotypes overshadowed this accomplishment. These movies were heavy on graphic sex scenes, violence, and stereotyped black men as pimps, black women as whores, and criminals.
The films eventually generated a backlash led by Black leaders that put an end to Blacksploitation films by 1980. (Padgett)
In the late 80’s and early 90’s, movies such as Glory , Do the Right Thing, and Boyz N the Hood would create a change by showing a side of black history as well as inner city street life many Americans were not use to witnessing on film.