Groundbreaking Harlem filmmaker St. Clair Bourne died Saturday in a New York hospital after an operation to remove a brain tumor. He was 64.Bourne’s blend of artistic vision and activism led him to an unconventional and sometimes controversial career, which included a string of acclaimed documentaries highlighting the African-American experience.
Born in Harlem in 1943, Bourne attended Georgetown University in the 1960s, buthegot kicked out of school after being arrested at an off-campus sit-in.
Bourne later returned to college, graduating from Syracuse University with a dual degree in journalism and political science.
In 1971, Bourne was tapped as a producer for “Black Journal” – the nation’s first black-oriented public affairs show. But the restless filmmaker soon left to found his own production company, Chamba, which he led until his death.
At the time of his death, Bourne was working on a documentary about veteran Memphis-based civil rights photographer Ernest Withers, who died in October at age 85.
Bourne is survived by a sister, Judith Bourne, a lawyer in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.