Giant of His Race (1921)

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Five decades before Roots, the all-black North State Film Corp. released this seven reel melodrama about Mungo, a slave in the New World, who lives long enough to see his son, Covington, become a medical doctor devoting his career to "the uplift of his people." When Yellow Plague breaks out, Covington works tirelessly to find an antidote that may save his race from extinction. After many failed attempts, the good doctor finally manages to cure a young woman and is awarded $100,000 for his discovery. Mungo, meanwhile, dies at a ripe old age, satisfied that the Negro race has been saved. Produced by Ben Strasser, A Giant of His Race featured well-known "Race Film" performers Mabel Holmes, Walter Holeby, Ruth Freeman, and Walter Long; the latter was of course not the white actor of the same name.