Racial Discrimination

Stories about racial discrimination in relation to theaters and moviegoing

Film Ban Expresses Racial Censorship in 1945

The esteemed Paramount Theater (also known as the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall) located on Broadway in Portland, Oregon, was banned from showing the controversial film “Imitation of Life”. The film, starring Louise Beavers and Fredi Washington told a story of a daughter in the film who supports the negro population by creating friendships and bonds in the negro community. The film expressed the cause of controversy in the white community.

Racial Discrimination in Portland Limits Freedom

Despite the political progressivism of Oregon today, for nearly two centuries, racism has been deeply rooted within the state. In 1859, Oregon entered the union as a free state and explicitly banned African Americans from living there. At the time, it was the only state to do this.

Star Theater

Star Theater Entrance, 1972 (Oregon Encyclopedia)
Figure 1.1- Star Theater, ext, 1972 (The Oregon Encyclopedia)

The Star Theater (Shown in Figure 1.1) in downtown Portland first opened it’s doors on June 20th of 1904. (Star Theater) Morton S.

The Infamous Mr. Pantages

Alexander Pantages was a Greek immigrant who opened more than 60 theaters across the western United States and Canada. The Pantages Theater circuit was quite successful, and three of its theaters still function today in Hollywood, Minneapolis, and Tacoma. During the 20th century, the theaters would showcase both films and live vaudeville performances.