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David A. Gerstner

filmmaker, was born Marlon Troy Riggs in Fort Worth, Texas, to Jean Williams, director of Equal Employment Opportunity and Civil Rights, a federal agency, and Alvin Riggs, who had a career in military and federal service. In the late 1960s Jean and Alvin Riggs moved Marlon and his sister, Sascha, to Augusta, Georgia, where, among other racist incidents, Marlon's school would not sponsor him in the state spelling bee even though he won the local contest. Alvin Riggs's military job took the family to Germany, where Marlon spent his high school years.

Like other African Americans who had lived abroad Marlon was struck by the overt racism and segregation that he experienced upon his return to the United States In addition to the ideological divides of race Riggs s homosexuality further complicated the oversimplified determinants of identity His experiences and observations of difference however served as ...

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Malaika B. Horne

filmmaker, educator, writer, and gay and civil rights activist. Riggs was born into a military family in Fort Worth, Texas, one of two children of Jean Riggs and Alvin Riggs. He graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor's degree in history from Harvard University in 1978. In 1981 he earned a master's degree in journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. A brilliant documentary filmmaker and scholar, he had a raw aesthetic sensibility that sought to shock and galvanize. The youngest tenured professor in the arts and humanities at the University of California, Berkeley, he taught in the Graduate School of Journalism from 1987 until 1994, the year of his passing.

At age eight Riggs moved with his family to Augusta Georgia Being confronted with racism was not new but an experience in Augusta that denied him recognition for winning a spelling bee had ...

Article

Lawrie Balfour

Reflecting on the death of Marlon Troy Riggs from acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), cultural theorist Kobena Mercer observed, “Independent cinema lost the voice and vision of an important artist at the very moment that he was coming into his own.” At the time of his death, Riggs was at work on Black Is & Black Ain't. This feature-length film, complete by Riggs's collaborators in 1995, chronicled the variety of American identities seen as black.

Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Riggs grew up in a military family, moving from Texas to Georgia to Germany before returning to the United States to attend Harvard University. As an undergraduate he began to explore connections between black and gay identities. His studies led to a senior thesis on the treatment of male homosexuality in literature. After graduating magna cum laude in 1978 Riggs worked briefly at a Texas television station ...