VFH’s BackStory To Host a Live Show on the 100-Year Legacy of The Birth of a Nation, as Part of the Smithsonian and National Endowment for the Humanities’ Inaugural Film Forum



Charlottesville, VA—Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (VFH) announces a live show of BackStory with the American History Guys on Sunday, November 22 at 5 PM at Warner Bros. Theater in Washington, D.C., as part of the inaugural History Film Forum hosted by the Smithsonian and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The program will feature BackStory’s historian-hosts Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, and Peter Onuf in discussion with artists, scholars, and the live audience about the legacy of D.W. Griffith’s controversial and monumental work, The Birth of a Nation. Featured guests include artist Paul D. Miller (DJ Spooky), Harvard University historian and law professor Annette Gordon Reed, and Smithsonian Institution curator of African-American history and culture Fath Davis Ruffins.


This year marks the 100th anniversary of The Birth of a Nation, which may be the best example of the power of history film to affect public understanding of the past. The BackStory program will examine the film, its diverse cultural antecedents, and what it means a century later, as well as what lessons can be drawn for the creation of history film today. The program is free, but tickets are required and can be obtained online at http://historyfilmforum.si.edu/schedule/discussion-birth-nation-100-years-later/.

About the History Film Forum

The Smithsonian and the National Endowment for the Humanities will present the History Film Forum, a free, four-day exploration of history on the screen, at the National Museum of American History, Nov. 19 – 22. Featuring screenings and discussions, the forum will bring together experts and audiences to examine the state of narrative and documentary history film as vehicles for teaching and interpreting history. It will ask the question “When do films offer ‘good’ history?” and examine the boundaries of history as entertainment. A full schedule and ticket information are available at http://historyfilmforum.si.edu.

“Millions of people enter history through movies and other entertainment,” said John Gray, director of the National Museum of American History. “The History Film Forum will examine how history filmmaking reveals both truth and myth and how we as a society view ourselves.”

About BackStory with the American History Guys

BackStory is a national and international, weekly one-hour radio program and podcast that brings historical perspective to daily events in an engaging and accessible way. The program is now broadcast in 219 communities and 32 states, plus Washington, D.C., and has just exceeded 8.8 million downloads. American History Guys Ayers, Balogh, and Onuf plumb connections between present and past, spanning three centuries and offering surprising, non-partisan conversation about ideas, events, and their continuing impact. Listeners help shape the program by sharing comments and questions as each show is in the works. To learn more, visit BackStoryRadio.org.

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About VFH

The mission of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities is to connect people and ideas to explore the human experience and inspire cultural engagement. VFH reaches an estimated annual audience of 23 million through the Center for the Book, Community Programs, Digital Initiatives, and Scholarship. For more information, visit VirginiaHumanities.org.