NYTIMES Lens- St. Clair Bourne VISION:
Sistas & Brothas, The tragic loss of Brother St. Clair Bourne is a massive one. He was a staunch revolutionary Black nationalist. And this was reflected in all of his work... even back to his days as a photographer. We have so few principled, committed, Black filmmakers (in any of the categories) here in the US that his joining the ancestors means a big big vacuum left in our fight for positive Black cinema and documentation of our powerful legacy of Struggle and Resistance inside the US. He was my Brother and Comrade-in-struggle for more than 40 years. He taught me how to frame a picture for my ambitions of being an amateur photographer. Up until he went into the hospital, we were making plans for an exhibit of his great fotos of the 1960's at the Brecht Forum as well as a panel to discuss the importance of visual documentation of social struggles. Below is a slice of his principled professional life. In Struggle, Sam Anderson
When I received word about St. Clair’s passing, it was such a shock that I was at a loss for words, Please read the his bio below. May he rest in peace!
St. Clair Bourne was born on February 16, 1943 in Harlem, New York. While attending Georgetown University in the 1960s, he became active in the peace movement and left college to join the Peace Corps. Stationed in Lima, Peru, Bourne became something of a local celebrity when he took on the editing and publishing duties of the Spanish newspaper El Comeno. His work on the paper led to him being written up in a feature article in Ebony magazine.
After his service, Bourne attended Syracuse University where he graduated in 1967 with a dual degree in Journalism and Political Science. On a scholarship, Bourne continued his education at the Columbia University Graduate School for Arts where he studied filmmaking. He was expelled, however, after his involvement in a peace movement demonstration ended in the takeover of the administration building.
Not long after leaving the University, Bourne was recommended to executive producer, William Greaves, to work on a series called The Black Journal (notable for becoming the first black public affairs television series in the United States) for public television. Bourne started on the series as an associate producer and quickly worked his way up to full producer status. In his three year tenure on the series, Bourne helped the program to win an Emmy award and earned himself a John Russworm Citation for Excellence in Broadcasting.
Bourne left the program in 1971 to seek greater challenges and more creative freedom. To this end, he formed his own production company, Chamba. With Chamba, Bourne continues to write, produce, and direct award winning and highly acclaimed features and documentaries. Starting in 1972, Bourne also served as publisher of the highly regarded newsletter Chamba Notes. Bourne continues to contribute articles to major publications that promote discussion of political and cultural issues as well as the art of filmmaking.
By David Patterson
Scope and Content Note The St. Clair Bourne Collection serves to collect and preserve the creative printed works of filmmaker St. Clair Bourne as well as maintain an archive of clippings and articles pertaining to Bourne and his various works. The collection is divided into two major series: works that have been produced by St. Clair Bourne and works that have been produced about St. Clair Bourne. Works produced by St. Clair Bourne are broken up into sub-series of photographs and writings (including articles Bourne has contributed to various magazines). Works about St. Clair Bourne are divided into sub-series that include articles discussing general aspects of Bourne’s life and career and articles that discuss specific projects Bourne has worked on over the years.
Date of Deposit September 2002
Inventory List Box 1
Series: Works by St. Clair Bourne
Subseries: Carton Listings [Dated September 22, 1985]
Old Documentary Projects Carton Listing Old Features Carton Listing Other files Carton Listing
Bruchac, Joseph. “Three Days In Mississippi,” Levels Magazine. Vol. 1, Number 2, 1966, p.52-62. [Bourne is credited with the photography of this article] “Mississippi March 1966.” [Picture features a row of black activists stretching for miles down one lane of a highway in Mississippi in 1966] [6 copies on cardboard stock]
Fall 1972 [photocopy; note: portions of page 3 are illegible] Spring/Summer 1973 Winter/Spring 1974 [photocopy] Winter 1977-1978 Spring/Summer 1978 Fall 1978 Spring 1979 [photocopy] Winter 1979
Bourne, St. Clair. “Black Filmmaking: Bright Moments.” Z Magazine. March 1989, p. 40-41 [photocopy; Bourne discusses Making of Do the Right Thing, his career, and the political climate in Hollywood towards making Black Films]
Bourne, St. Clair. “The Black Journal Series.” [photocopy, dated 23 Aug 2002; Bourne discusses the creation of Black Journal and the socio-political climate that influenced and affected the series]
Bourne, St. Clair. “Bright Moments: The Black Journal Series.” [photocopy; originally written for Independent Film and Video Monthly May 1988 issue and updated for presentation at Central Florida University 24 January 2001]
Bourne, St. Clair. “Flashback” (Spring 2001) [in an article written for IDA Magazine, Bourne discusses the influences and political climate surrounding his 1973 documentary, Let the Church Say Amen!”]
Bourne, St. Clair. “IRA Militant to BUF’s Daughtry: ‘We are Struggling Like the Blacks in America,’” New York Alliance. 5 Feb 1982 [photocopy; Bourne interviews Rev. Herbert Daughtry of the United Black Front about the civil unrest in Northern Ireland]
Bourne, St. Clair. “’Minority’ Programming on PTV,” Independent Film and Video Monthly. Vol. 3, no. 3, April 1980, p. 9. [photocopy; Bourne discusses the state of minority programming on public television]
Langston Hughes Review, The. Vol. 15, no. 2, Winter 1997. [Bourne is responsible for 8 interviews conducted with experts and scholars of Langston Hughes]
Willis, Deborah, ed. Picturing Us: African American Identity in Photography. New York: The New Press [1994?], p. 147-153. [photocopy of cover page and article; book features article by Bourne: “The Continuing Drama of African-American Images in American Cinema”]
John Henrik Clark: A Great and Mighty Walk - A Documentary by St. Clair Bourne; Transcription: First Draft, 2/8/96 [printed copy]
Series: Works About St. Clair Bourne
African Americans: Voices of Triumph: Creative Fire. Richmond, VA: Time-Life, 1994, p. 64. [Bourne featured on page 64 of this book in a highlight of his life and career]
Baimbridge, Richard. “Bourne to be Wild,” Independent Film and Video Monthly. March 1999, p. 34-37.
CNS. “The Best and Worst of Everything: On His Own,” Syracuse University Magazine. Vol. 4, no. 2, March 1988. [photocopy]
Coleman, Stephen. “St. Clair Bourne: 20 Years Filming the Black Experience,” Black Masks: Spotlight on Black Art. October/November 1990, p. 4-5, 20.
Current Biography. Vol 61, No. 6, June 2000, p. 3-9.
Cutner, Naomi and Donna E. Haupt. “Salute to Eight at the Top of the Arts and Their Observations on the Obstacles, Past and Present,” Life (Special issue). Spring 1988, p. 72-77. [Bourne featured on page 75 of this article under the heading “Documentary Maker”]
Grandjean, Pat. “People: St. Clair Bourne,” Connecticut Magazine. Nov 2000, p. 95-99.
Hope, Darrell. “Documentary Overview,” DGA Magazine [Directors Guild of America]. January 2001, p. 89-93.
“March 22 & 23 - St. Clair Bourne in Person: 20 Years of Black Independent Filmmaking” [photocopy; flyer advertising Bourne’s appearance at the American Film Institute Theater]
Sampson, Mary. “Minding Their Own Business: Reflections on the Documentary Marketplace,” Independent Film and Video Monthly. October 2002, p. 49-55. [Bourne featured on page 50 of this article under the heading “Bourne: A Call For Independents”]
“St. Clair Bourne: A Man Who Wears No Mask,” New Haven Arts. Vol. 10, no. 2, February 1997, p. 3.
St. Clair Bourne Interview with George Alexander (author of Why We Make Movies), Fall 2002. [Transcript, 49 pages]
Taylor, Clyde. “St. Clair Bourne, Filmmaker,” Artists and Influence. Vol. 15, 1996, p. 47-63. [In an interview conducted by Taylor on 21 January 1996, Bourne discusses his life and career]
Thompson, Clifford. “Showing Complexity in Documentary Portraits: an Interview with St. Clair Bourne,” Cineaste. Vol. 26, Issue 3, Summer 2001, p. 36-37.
Thompson, Clifford. “St. Clair Bourne: Documenting the African- American Experience,” Cineaste. Vol. 26, Issue 3, Summer 2001, p. 34-
Whitney Museum of American Art - The New American Filmmakers Series: Exhibitions of Independent Film and Video - St. Clair Bourne: 13-28 February 1988. [flyer; contains a career overview, brief biography, and a selected filmography of Bourne]
“Young Publisher With Problems: Brooklyn Peace Corps Volunteer Puts Out Spanish Newspaper in Slum of Lima, Peru,” Ebony. November 1965, p. 101-109.
Subseries: America - Black and White
Taylor, Clarke. “NBC White Paper: A Black’s Insights,” Los Angeles Times. [photocopy; dates unknown]
Subseries: The Black and the Green
“Arts & Entertainment,” New York Amsterdam News. Saturday, 30 April
1983. [photocopy; photograph of Bourne together with Congressman Ronald Dellums and wife at a Kennedy Center screening of The Black and the Green]
“The Arts: Ireland Through Black Eyes” [photocopy; dates & publication unknown]
Caldwell, Earl. “Black and Green in Land Stained Red,” Daily News. 16 March 1983. [photocopy; note: portions of photocopy are blurred and illegible]
Douglas, Pamela. “Culture: Going to the Heart of Ireland’s Crisis,” National Leader. 11 November 1982, p. 19-20. [photocopy; portion of article discusses Bourne’s filming of The Black and the Green]
“Film Clips,” In These Times, October 1984. [2 photocopies]
“FYI: Black and Green - United in Change,” Elan. Vol. 1, no. 1, April
Lacayo, Richard. “Arts & Leisure: Black Writers and Producers are Widening their Focus,” New York Times. Sunday, 29 May 1983. [photocopy]
Williamson, Mel. “TV Mailbag: ‘Black Creative People Have Always Had a Wide Focus’ - Why Blacks are Using a Wider Lens,” New York Times. Sunday, 19 June 1983. [photocopy; letter responding to Richard Lacayo’s ‘Arts & Leisure’ piece]
Subseries: Heritage of the Black West
“Member News,” International Documentary. Vol. 15, no. 5, July/August, 1995, p. 27.
Subseries: In Motion: Amiri Baraka
Corry, John. “TV: Documentary Film Examines Amiri Baraka,” New York Times, Tuesday, 28 June 1983. [photocopy]
Subseries: Langston Hughes, The Dreamkeeper
Caldwell, Earl. “Langston Hughes Captured on Film,” New York Daily News. Monday, 19 May 1986. [photocopy]
“Langston Hughes - Voices and Visions: Poet of the Black Experience is Presented,” Los Angeles Sentinel. 7 January 1988. [photocopy]
Salaam, Kalamu. “Langston Hughes Film To Air on Channel 12,” Louisiana Weekly. Saturday, 13 February 1988, Section 1, p. 8. [photocopy]
“Voice of His People,” New York Times. 11 February 1988. [photocopy; brief blurb from the ‘TV Highlights’ section giving channel and start time for Bourne’s documentary on Langston Hughes]
West, Sandra. “PBS’ Langston Hughes, The Dreamkeeper,” [photocopy; date and publication unknown]
Subseries: Let the Church Say Amen!
Sayre, Nora. “Seminarian is the Hero of Let the Church Say Amen!,” New York Times. [photocopy; date unknown]
Subseries: The Making of Do the Right Thing
Berman, Janice. “Movie Reviews: Documentary Does the Right Thing,” New York Newsday. Friday, 3 November 1989. [photocopy]
Brin. “Making Do the Right Thing (DOCU),” Variety. New York: 6-12 September 1989. [photocopy]
Cosford, Bil. “Spike Lee Through a Microscope: Documentary Give Insights Into His Do the Right Thing,” Miami Herald. [photocopy; date unknown]
Fleming, Robert. “Back to Film Future in Bed-Stuy: Pioneer Aims his Lens at Those Who Followed,” Daily News. Friday, 3 November 1989. [photocopy; note: bottom portion of photocopy is garbled]
Gallo, Hank. “Docu Does the Right Thing,” Daily News. Friday, 3 November 1989. [photocopy; note: on same photocopy page as Fleming’s “Back to Film Future” article]
“Making Do the Right Thing,” Producer Services Group, Inc. (PSG). [special promotional flyer to advertise the film]
Ringel, Eleanor. “Preview: Docu, Early Film Paint Interesting Picture of Spike,” Atlanta Journal. [photocopy; date unknown]
Thomas, Keith L. “Filmmaker Documents the ‘Right Thing.’” [photocopy; date and publication unknown]
“Making Do the Right Thing: A Film by St. Clair Bourne,” [photocopy] - Promo packet from First Run Features containing an introductory article, full cast and crew information, a biography of Bourne, and the following two articles:
Jones, Lisa. “The Tube: Bourne Again: A Black Documentarian Looks Forward and Back,” Voice. 23 February 1988. Fleming, Robert. “Back to Film Future in Bed-Stuy: Pioneer Aims His Lens at Those Who Followed,” Daily News. Friday, 3 November 1989. [photocopy; note: bottom portion is blurred] Subseries: On the Boulevard
“Arts & Entertainment: Bourne Films for PBS,” New York Amsterdam News. Vol. 76, no. 31, Saturday, 3 August 1985. [photocopy]
Bergmann, David. “Documentarian Enters New Arena with PBS Drama,” Variety. p. 13. [publicity; date unknown]
Taylor, Priscilla. “Producer Bourne Makes Fiction Filmmaking Debut,” Big Red News. 3 August 1985, p. 20. [photocopy]
White, Arnold. The City Sun. 31 July - 6 August 1985. [photocopy]
Subseries: Sea Island Journey
Grant, Brooke. “National Geographic Takes a Sea Island Journey,” American Cinematographer. January 1993, p. 70-74.
Subseries: Where Roots Endure
Edkin, Michael A. “Interviews: Where Roots Endure: Explores the Unknown in Our Own Back Yard,” TV Host Weekly. 11-17 February 1989, p. 13.