It’s that time of year, Black History Month, and this year, the month of February has even more meaning as we welcome our first African American President into the annals of American History.
For you movie buffs or for those who just want to either re-watch or watch for the first time movies that show encompass Black American life at its best and worst, depending on how you choose to look at it. Some of the recommendations are suitable for children and some are not. If you are a parent or a teacher, use your best judgement.
Please feel free to add your own recommendations!
Black History Month Movie List (this list courtesy of http://www.powertolearn.com, teaching tools and discussion questions accompany each description on the site):
The Color Purple (1985) – PG-13
Adapted from Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel the film version of The Color Purpleoffers a glimpse into the world of African Americans in the South nearly 100 years ago. The accompanying questions provided herein offer parents and students an opportunity to reflect upon and discuss the historical and contemporary issues the film addresses including racism, segregation, and more.
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967) – NR
This award-winning comedy treats a subject that is still controversial today – interracial marriage. The accompanying questions provided herein offer parents and students an opportunity to reflect upon and discuss the historical and contemporary issues the film addresses including racism, interracial marriage, and more.
Malcolm X (1992) – PG-13
This Spike Lee film starring Denzel Washington is based on The Autobiography of Malcolm X and an Alex Haley biography. Malcolm X was a controversial figure during the civil rights movement in the United States. HIs personal and political journey and ultimately his conversion are inspirational.
A Raisin in the Sun (1961) – NR
Sidney Poitier stars as Walter Lee Younger an African American father and husband struggling to support his family and make a better life for them against a background of racism and segregation. The accompanying questions provided herein offer parents and students an opportunity to reflect upon and discuss the historical and contemporary issues the film addresses including racism, diversity, integration and more.
A Soldier’s Story (1984) – PG
Set toward the end of World War II this murder mystery examines the life and death of an African American sergent in charge of a racially segregated uit. It deals powerfully with issues of racism and stereotypes. The accompanying questions provided herein offer parents and students an opportunity to reflect upon and discuss the historical and contemporary issues the film addresses.
To Kill A Mockingbird (1962) – NR
A film classic set in 1932 Alabama. A decent, white lawyer defends a black man unjustly accused of raping a white woman. A great film with many important themes including justice, innocence, race relations and ethics. The accompanying questions provided herein offer parents and students an opportunity to reflect upon and discuss the historical and contemporary issues the film addresses.
I would recommend all of the above, plus the following:
Glory (1998) (Denzel Washington, Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman) - True depiction of an all Black unit of free and enslaved Civil War soldiers, fighting for freedom.
Boycott (2001) (Jeffrey Wright, Terrance Howard) Based on the bus boycott lead by Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to end segregation, this film focuses on the lives of the everyday people who made the movement possible.
Ms. Evers’ Boys (1997) (Alfre Woodard, Lawrence Fishburne) – Depicts the true story of the Syphillis Experiment, a government sanctioned medical study which authorized the injection of syphilis into young Black men and the nurse who cared for them as they dealt with the affects of the disease.
A Time To Kill (1996) (Samuel L. Jackson, Matthew McConahey, Sandra Bullock) (Based on the John Grisham book, A Time To Kill) A modern day take on race relations in the South. A Black father is enraged after his young daughter is raped by White men who have connections to the Klan.
Roots (1977) (LaVar Burton, Olivia Cole) (The entire made for TV DVD series plus The Next Generation) - Author Alex Haley’s riveting saga of his family history from Africa to slavery to modern day America.
Do The Right Thing (1989) (Spike Lee; Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis, Martin Lawrence, Danny Aiello) – A modern day take on race relations in the 1990′s, drawn from real life racial incidents that occurred in the Bed-Stuy neighborhood in NYC.
Mississippi Burning (1989) (Gene Hackman, Wilem Dafoe) – Based on the true story of FBI investigation of three civil rights workers who were murdered in Mississippi in 1964.
Other great sites for Black movie recommendations and resources include:http://collegeuniversity.suite101.com/article.cfm/black_history_month_film_resources
http://movies.msn.com/movies/galleryfeature/blackcinema/ (I really like this site!)
And Turner Classic Movies will be showing various movies throughout the month of February in honor of Black History Month: