Alice B. Russell Micheaux Headstone

Alice B. Russell Micheaux was a pioneering film actress and film producer, as well as the widow of Oscar Micheaux, renowned African American filmmaker, and both were active during the silent era through the 1940s.  Amazing! Yet unfortunately, Mrs. Micheaux spent her final years as a ward of the state suffering from dementia, and was buried in 1985 in an unmarked pauper’s grave at the Greenwood Union Cemetery in Rye, New York.  Our cover image shows purple flowers   marking the spot where a stone marker will be as weather permits. The image below shows Mrs. Micheaux's burial plot circled in red.

Let's place a headstone at Alice’s currently unmarked grave. Women's contributions to film have been undervalued too often and while the full scope of Mrs. Micheaux's role as her husband's collaborator may never be fully recovered from an imperfect archive, we can honor what we do know now.

Alice Micheaux performed in The Broken Violin (1927), and in Oscar's films including Murder in Harlem (1935), God's Step Children  (1938) and The Betrayal (1948).  Alice collaborated with her husband as script supervisor and casting associate on Lying Lips (1939) and miscellaneous crew on Swing! (1938), Murder in Harlem (1935), Ten Minutes to Live (1932) and The Girl from Chicago (1932).  

An intriguing 1948 letter Alice Micheaux wrote to her sister Ethel describes "help" she provided to Oscar when she accompanied him to Chicago to work on a "big picture."  And it also intimates the sheer multiplicity and relentlessness of the creative, domestic, technical, and business tasks she contributed to her husband as he suffered from arthritis "all over his body,"  which left his hands "slightly swollen." Her labor encompassed personal caretaking for the "restless" director as well as performing, casting, working on the crew, and script advising--work she did under the name A. Burton Russell. 

Knowing her story we cannot rest until our sister in cinema, Alice, our ancestor, is at rest too, honored with a proper headstone and ceremony to recognize her life and status as a pioneering woman of African American cinema.

We are raising $1750 to commission a headstone from DeNigris Monuments and hold a dedication ceremony at Mrs. Micheaux's grave site. The amount of $1430 includes the cost of the stone, engraving, installation, and cemetery fees. We plan to purchase flowers and hire musicians for the dedication ceremony.  GoFundMe costs 7.9% plus $0.30 per donation for the platform and payment processing.

Administrative responsibilites for this campaign will be shared among the Alice Micheaux Headstone Committee, which consists of Terri Francis film scholar, Brian Graney film archivist, and Lina Accurso, custodian of Alice's grave (who alerted us to this situation). We will make sure that funds go to DeNigris and we will plan a proper memorial for Mrs. Micheaux to which all are invited. 

The dedication will take place April 11, 2018 at 11AM in Rye, New York before the evening program of the Orphans Film Symposium whose theme this year is LOVE. We hope you can join us in Rye. We'll update you as plans come together. The alternate date we can use in case the ground is too hard for pouring the foundation and setting the stone will be June 30, 2018, Alice Micheaux's birthday.

Donations (50)

  • Dr. Jamie Walker
    • $10 
    • 5 yrs
  • Monique Threatt
    • $20 (Offline)
    • 6 yrs
  • Lina Accurso
    • $235 (Offline)
    • 6 yrs


Terri Francis
Indianapolis, IN

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