Blaxploitation: History

Pam Grier
Blaxploitation was a film genre that emerged at the end of the Black Power Era in the 1970s. The ex-film publicist, Junius Griffin, created the term “Blaxploitation”. This genre was the first to incorporate Funk and Soul music in the film scores. Blaxploitation films had a predominantly African American cast of actors and audiences.
  Blaxploitation focused on Black men and women as anti-heroes and anti-heroines. The films focused on topics relating to the war against white supremacy and the white establishment, known as “The Man”. The films also displayed the main characters fighting to bring down villains in lower income neighborhoods occupied by African Americans. Blaxploitation films were known for pimps, prostitutes, hit men and drug dealers being empowered as protectors of the urban ghettos. Political activist and scholar, Angela Davis became the model for Blaxploitation style due to her status as the icon for Black Nationalism.
Tamara Dobson in Cleopatra Jones

Women of the Blaxploitation era were critiqued for their revealing clothing and their furthering black stereotypes perceived by white America. This related to women of the era rejecting the ideals of “respectability.” Blaxploitation films also displayed the victimization of women.
The Blaxploitation genre was perceived as a trend of Black Empowerment. However, the NAACP, Urban League, and Southern Christian Leadership Conference heavily critiqued it for its continuation of black stereotypes. These 3 groups united to establish the Coalition Against Blaxploitation; this was a main factor of the genres decline in 1975.