Brain Pickings

The Brotherhood of Man: Vintage Animated Short Film Debunks the Myths of Racist Beliefs (1946)


An animated adaptation of a WWII-era pamphlet making a scientific case against racism.

In 1946, Columbia University anthropologists Ruth Benedict and Gene Weltfish published a pamphlet intended for American troops, entitled The Races of Mankind, which presented in simple language and cartoon illustrations a scientific case against racism. That same year, the pamphlet was adapted in the lovely animated short film The Brotherhood of Man, which makes a humorous but articulate case for equality despite physical dissimilarity and argues for extending to all people “an equal chance in life.”

How civilized a person is depends on the surroundings in which he grows up. The differences in the ways people behave are not inherited from their ancestors.

The pamphlet is now in the public domain and is thus available in its entirety, courtesy of The Internet Archive. It’s worth it if only for the wonderful illustrations.

UPDATE: Reader Jesse Jarnow (son of the great Al Jarnow) points out that The Brotherhood of Man is the work of legendary animator John Hubley, previously featured here.

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