Birth of a Movement is a 2017 documentary that looks at D. W. Griffith's famous 1915 film The Birth of a Nation, which dramatizes the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. At the time of its release, The Birth of a Nation was seen as a great cinematic achievement and was the first film ever officially screened at the White House. Despite its initial positive reception, the movie itself is deeply problematic because of its stereotyped portrayals of African Americans and its extremely biased view of slavery and the Civil War.
The Birth of a Nation in fact led to a large surge of interest in membership with the Ku Klux Klan. Boston-area editor William Monroe Trotter fought to enlighten people as to why the movie was in fact a terrible document. Trotter was an activist and civil rights leader who used his platform to start a movement against the film. He strongly believed that the content in the movie was false, harmful to the African-American community, and supportive of white supremacy. Despite Trotter's large effort to censor the movie, he found little support from political leaders, who tended to believe it was theaters' choice to show the film. The last few minutes of the documentary explore how The Birth of a Nation inspired unapologetic white supremacy, as well as the proliferation of blackface and other forms of damaging stereotypes in the media. Though Trotter was ultimately unsuccessful in suppressing Griffith's film, he showed the country that black resistance existed and would not be suppressed, regardless of the threat of white supremacy and the Ku Klux Klan.