Oscar Micheaux

by: Faith McCants

                                    Early in Oscar Devereaux's Life

Oscar Devereaux Micheaux was born in January 2, 1884 in the state of Metropolis, Illinois, US He was the fifth child born to Calvin S. and Belle Michaux, who had a total of thirteen children.In his later years, Micheaux added an “e” to his last name. His father was born a slave in Kentucky.Because of its surname, his father's family appears to have been associated with French-descended settlers.French Huguenot refugees had settled in Virginia in 1700; their descendants took slaves west when they migrated into Kentucky after the American Revolutionary.

Micheaux was born when African Americans were trying to succeed in a world dominated by whites. He struggled with social oppression as a young boy, which he reflected in writing in later years. To give their children education, his parents relocated to the city for better schooling. Micheaux attended a well-established school for several years before the family eventually ran into money troubles and were forced to relocate to the farm. Unhappy, Micheaux became rebellious and discontented. His struggles caused internal problems within his family. His father was not happy with him and sent him away to do marketing within the big city. Micheaux found pleasure in this job because he was able to speak to many new people and learned many social skills that he would later reflect within his films.

When Micheaux was 17 years old, he moved to Chicago Illinois, to live with his older brother, then working as a waiter.Micheaux became dissatisfied with what he viewed as his brother’s way of living “the good life.” He rented his own place and found a job in the stockyards, which he found difficult. He worked many different jobs, moving from the stockyards to the steel mills.

                                            Marriage and Family

In South Dakota, Micheaux married Orlean McCracken. Her family proved to be complex and burdensome for Micheaux. Unhappy with their living arrangements, Orlean felt that Micheaux did not pay enough attention to her. She gave birth while he was away on business.She was reported to have emptied their bank accounts and fled.Orlean’s father sold Micheaux's property and took the money from the sale. After his return, Micheaux tried unsuccessfully to get Orlean and his property back.


Micheaux died on March 25, 1951, in Charlotte, North Carolina, of heart failure . He is buried in Great Bend Cemetery in Great Bend, Kansas the home of his youth. His gravestone reads: "A man ahead of his time".

                                                        All of his Films

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