It’s that time of year again!
In my opinion, Black History shouldn’t be honored and condensed into the shortest month of the year, but I came across 28 movies that make it easier to understand who we are, what we go through, and just how great our blackness is year-round.
So, without further ado, here are the movies that will teach you a little something that our history books won’t.
1. Just Mercy
Want to learn more about systemic racism? This film tells the true story of Walter McMillian and Bryan Stevenson—a young man wrongfully convicted of murder and the defense attorney determined to find justice.
Yes, the South was desegregated in 1964, but Black people were still seen as less than. Discrimination prevailed across the country, and many Black people were kept from registering to vote. This movie shows the post-Civil Rights Act suffrage efforts led by Dr. King to get the Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed.
3. Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland
When discussing the racial injustice faced by Black Americans, it’s important not to leave Black women out of the conversation. Activist Sandra Bland was pulled over for a traffic violation and, three days later, found dead in her jail cell. She is just one of countless Black women whose experience with racism deserves to be told. This film shares her story and follows the two-year case that began shortly after her death.
4. I Am Not Your Negro
If you’ve never read or heard James Baldwin before, then you’re in for a treat. The novelist, activist, and playwright breaks down race relations in a way that’s easy to understand and difficult to deny. I Am Not Your Negro is based on Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript, Remember This House, and will take viewers through the history of what it means to be Black in America and how that’s evolved over time.
5. The Hate You Give
This is one book-to-move adaptation I can get behind. Based on Angie Thomas’ best-selling novel, The Hate U Give follows the story of Starr Carter, a Black high schooler who straddles the privileged world of her prep school and the poor Black neighborhood she grew up in. But Starr is forced to reckon with both worlds when her friend Khalil is shot by a white police officer, and she’s the only witness.
6. Malcolm X
If you’ve heard the phrase “by any means necessary,” then you know it came from this man. But Malcolm X was so much more than the controversial and militant activist so many history books portray him as. This film provides a closer look at his philosophies and why he was working so hard for Black liberation.
7. The Black Power Mixtape
When learning about the Black Power Movement and key activists including the Black Panther Party, Stokely Carmichael, and Angela Davis, my guess is your history textbooks either got it wrong or didn’t mention it at all. This film will set the record straight as it combines three canisters of archival footage found from the 1960s and ’70s during the antiwar and Black power movements.
8. Do The Right Thing
Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing is eerily as relevant now as it was when it first hit theaters more than 30 years ago. The film focuses on the racial tensions and biases of one Brooklyn neighborhood on the hottest day of the summer, but represents the kind of pervasive racism that exists throughout the United States today.
Ava Duvernay’s 13th takes a closer look at the 13th amendment and how one sentence (a.k.a. loophole) has allowed society to further enslave Black Americans through mass incarceration. With interviews from legacy civil rights activists like Angela Davis and Henry Louis Gates Jr., this documentary is a mandatory homework assignment.
In one of the greatest live performances of all time (I will not hear otherwise), Beyoncé pays homage to HBCUs as the headliner of the 2018 Coachella music festival. She gives fans new renditions of “Crazy In Love,” “Formation,” and the Black national anthem, “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing.”
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