Feb 7, 2024 - News

Richmond Planet documentary will be preserved as history

A picture that says "Birth of a Planet Richmond on Paper" with a printing press behind it.

Photo: Courtesy of Tilt Creative + Production.

John Mitchell Jr. was a prominent Black leader in Richmond who fought against lynch mobs, documented the rise of the KKK and exposed injustices against Black people in the South.

Driving the news: Now, the research that went into a 2022 documentary about his life and time as editor of the Richmond Planet — which was one of the oldest Black-owned papers in the U.S. — will be in the hands of local institutions.

  • Richmond-based Tilt Creative + Production, which self-produced the 26-minute documentary, announced this week that it's donating the film and its findings to the Black History Museum, the Library of Virginia and the Culture Center of Virginia.
  • "Birth of a Planet — Richmond on Paper," which is available on PBS, took two years of researching, writing and filming.

Flashback: Mitchell became the paper's legendary editor in 1884, at 21 years old.

  • He also owned a bank, served on City Council representing Jackson Ward and was the first Black man in Virginia to run for governor in 1921.
  • In 2023, the DMV launched a Virginia license plate commemorating the Richmond Planet with a QR code that would direct users to the documentary.

What they're saying: Reginald Carter, who proposed and designed the license plate, told the Times-Dispatch that, "You can't tell Virginia's story without telling John Mitchell and The Richmond Planet's story."

  • "Just like you can't tell American history without telling Black history."

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