Carroll Parrott Blue

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Carroll Parrott Blue
Carroll Parrott Blue.jpg
Carroll Parrott Blue

August 23, 1943
Houston, Texas, U.S.
DiedDecember 11, 2019 (aged 76)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Alma materBoston University (B.A.)
Known forDocumentary film, interactive multimedia art
MovementL.A. Rebellion

Carroll Parrott Blue (August 23, 1943 – December 11, 2019) was an American filmmaker, director and author. Based in Houston, Texas, she was part of the L.A. Rebellion film movement. She was noted for her documentary film and interactive multimedia works, particularly for her project The Dawn at My Back: Memoir of a Black Texas Upbringing. Blue was a research professor at the University of Houston. She worked to preserve and celebrate the history of the African American community in Houston.

Early life and education[edit]

Carroll Parrott Blue was born on August 23, 1943 in Houston, Texas.[1] She grew up during the segregation era in Houston's Third Ward.[2] During her childhood, Blue's mother Mollie Carroll Parrott worked with and for organizations such as Negro YWCA, Garden Club, Texas Negro Democratic party, and many church groups that fought for civil rights during the Civil Rights Era.[3] Blue graduated from Jack Yates Colored High School.[4]

Blue began attending Boston University in 1960 and earned her B.A. in english literature in 1964.[5] She earned her MFA in film production at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1980.[5]


Blue's documentary works have focused on women of the African diaspora and visual arts themes.[1] Blue's multimedia participatory projects developed out of her documentary work. Her autobiographical The Dawn at my Back, a work that combines film, text and hypermedia form, gave rise to the non-profit organization The Dawn Project[2] and later to Third Ward Storymapping.[6]

Her work is heavily concentrated in documentaries, African American cinema and digital community-based media.[5] Blue was also involved in television. Her television programs include Varnette's World: A Study of a Young Artist (1979), Smithsonian World ("Nigerian Arts-Kindred Spirits," 1996) and NOVA ("Mystery of the Senses: Vision," 2007).[7]

Blue was part of the L.A. Rebellion filmmaking movement (1967-1989), alongside Julie Dash, Charles Burnett, Jamaa Fanaka, Haile Gerima, Billy Woodberry, Barbara McCullough, Ben Caldwell, Alile Sharon Larkin, and Larry Clark.[8] The L.A. Rebellion filmmakers worked against Hollywood's negative perspective of black people in starring realistic, anti-stereotype characters in their works. Filming African Americans in their communities was an important aspect of this work, as Zeinabu Irene Davis stated in 2014 the "goal was and is to represent, reflect on, and enrich the day-to-day lives of people in our own communities."[9]

Blue became a professor emerita of San Diego State University in 1980.[2]

Blue's documentary Conversations with Roy DeCarava (1983) is a highly respected piece in the Los Angeles School. This documentary looks at DeCarava's work and life in Harlem.[8] She also created a documentary about Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui which helped to launch his career.[2] She served as a producer fellow for the American Film Institute in 1984 and 1985.[2]

The Dawn at My Back: A Memoir of a Black Texas Upbringing, (2003) is a book, DVD-ROM and website.[10] It explores Blue's family history and the history of Houston's black community.[10] It won the Sundance Online Film Festival Jury Award in 2004 and was also named one of the 30 best American Association of University Press publications by the American Library Association in that year.[7][3]

From 2006 through 2015, Blue was a research professor at the University of Houston.[3] While at the University of Houston, she applied for a National Endowment for the Arts "Our Town" grant application to encourage people in the art and architecture field to improve the community.[11] She was awarded $100,000 for this pursuit.[3] In 2011 and 2012 she was appointed a visiting scholar at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.[2]

Blue was passionate about transforming Houston and founded SEHTA, the Southeast Houston Transformation Alliance.[11] In Blue's pursuit of making change in the Southeast Houston area, her work consisted of storytelling, interactive multimedia, public art and design.[11] SEHTA tells the community's story by capturing the voices from the community while merging the objective facts of this community to reach her audience of academics, developers and donors.[11] She was part of a team that created artwork at the Palm Center Transit Center[12] and worked towards the renovation of Houston's Emancipation Park.[13]

Shortly after Hurricane Harvey in 2017, Blue collaborated in the creation of a storymap for the Third Ward with The Dawn Project, the Houston Chronicle, and several other organizations. The project collected stories from Houston residents who were impacted by storm.[2]


Blue's work The Dawn at My Back: Memoir of a Texas Upbringing won the 2004 Sundance Online Film Festival Viewers Award in the New Forms Gallery category.[14]

She was appointed a World Academy of Art and Science Fellow in 2007.[7]


Blue died on December 11, 2019, as reported in the Houston Defender. Her cause of death is unknown.[15]

Selected filmography[edit]

Carroll Parrott Blue has produced, directed and written films including those listed in the table below:[16]

Title Year Director Producer Writer Notes
"Nova" Mystery of the Senses: Vision 1995 Yes No No Documentary
Smithsonian World's Nigerian Arts-Kindred Spirits 1990 Yes Yes No Documentary
Conversations with Roy DeCarava 1983 Yes No No Short documentary
Varnette's World: A Study of a Young Artist 1979 Yes No No Short

Selected publications[edit]

In Blue's work as an author she blends text with graphics and stills.[7]

Blue's poem titled Sometimes a poem is Twenty Years of Memory: 1967-1987, showcases a few of her experiences early and throughout her career within those years. It explores how the interaction of her race, gender and community interact with her work in the film industry. It details good and bad experiences throughout.[17]


  1. ^ a b Brownlee, Andrea Barnwell; Oliver, Valerie Cassel (2008). Cinema Remixed and Reloaded: Black Women and the Moving Image Since 1970. Contemporary Art Museum Houston. pp. 153–154. ISBN 978-0295988641.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Geyer, Anne (January 10, 2020). "Houstonian Carroll Parrott Blue was an award-winning artist who honored the lives of African Americans and brought about change to their communities". Houston Chronicle.
  3. ^ a b c d Gray, Lisa (2018). "Woman's Goal: Transformation Of Southeast Houston". Houston Chronicle.
  4. ^ Turner, Allan (March 23, 2011). "UH exhibit focuses on Third Ward history, people". Houston Chronicle.
  5. ^ a b c "Carroll Parrott Blue". L.A. Rebellion.
  6. ^ Gubrium, Aline; Harper, Krista (2013). Participatory Visual and Digital Methods. Routledge. p. 147. ISBN 9781598744897.
  7. ^ a b c d "L.A. Rebellion: Caroll Parrott Blue". UCLA Film & Television Archive. Retrieved 10 March 2017.
  8. ^ a b Bobo, Jacqueline. 2013. Black Women Film And Video Artists. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis. p.28
  9. ^ Davis, Zeinabu Irene (2014). "Keeping the Black in Media Production: One L.A. Rebellion Filmmaker's Notes". Cinema Journal. 53 (4): 157–161. doi:10.1353/cj.2014.0054. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  10. ^ a b Blue, Carroll Parrott. 2003. The Dawn At My Back. Austin: University of Texas Press.
  11. ^ a b c d "Southeast Houston Arts Initiative".
  12. ^ Bishop, Amy (January 6, 2016). "Interactive Map: Light Rail Connects Houston's Neighborhoods Through Art". Houston Public Media.
  13. ^ Bey, Lee (June 14, 2017). "Emancipation Park was never dead. But now it has been reborn". Houston Chronicle.
  14. ^ "Sundance Awards 2004 Winners(3)". NewBay Media, LLC. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  15. ^ "Carroll Parrott Blue remembered for neighborhood commitment". Defender News Service. 19 December 2019. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  16. ^ "Carroll Parrott Blue"., Inc. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  17. ^ Blue, Carroll Parrott (2018). "Sometimes A Poem Is Twenty Years Of Memory: 1967-1987". Sage Women's Educational Press. 4 (1): 37–39.

External links[edit]